Sunday, December 28, 2008

Happiness is a tidy coat closet.

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas. We did. First Brother and my sister-in-law couldn't drive down from Idaho, as they were snowed in most of the week. They were sorely missed; but we had just about everybody else here at the house. The exception was my youngest brother, Third Brother. We don't know where he is. We presume he's still somewhere in central Minnesota, but the trail's gone cold. He's not an irresponsible or flighty person, so we're mystified as to why he disappeared without a trace.

M, if you're reading this, call your mother! She's worried sick, as are we all! We've been trying to track you down, but we may need to hire a detective if you don't phone soon. I'm NOT kidding!

Other than that worry, this Christmas was a lot less stressful than usual. My parents and siblings and Husband and I made a pact not to buy gifts for each other, and since Husband bought online the few gifts we allowed for the kids, there was no running around the week before Christmas, fighting the crowds and losing the spirit of joy and thanksgiving this time of year should bring. I'm not knocking gift-giving by any means. Nor am I preaching to anyone. For us, this year, I desired less. I want to simplify, to take stock of what we really need and then be grateful for what we have. I cleaned out the coat closet and was able to donate several very nice coats that no one uses. Plus, I re-taught each child how to hang up her coat (and then nagged them for about a week). Now they hang up their coats and the floor of the coat closet only holds their school bags. Remember that picture of the coat closet a few posts ago? Now it's completely transformed. Best Christmas present ever.

I prepped the walls of the living room for paint on Friday. I'm expecting to get them painted tomorrow or the next day. We also ordered some carpet tiles to make our own area rug from Flor. Husband and I had fun creating our own design on the computer. Soon the living room will be a library. I'll post some pictures.

Another of my sisters-in-law reminded me of the screen play I was writing for Lorna Doone some years ago. I stopped writing it because a very nice movie was made in 2001, and I felt that they had done a very good job. Still, we both want to see a six hour version, like the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice. I'm putting that on my list. How about Matthew Goode for the role of John Ridd? Dishy and expressive.

One more thing: I used a new brine/marinade recipe for the turkey and it turned out so juicy, tender and tasty that it would have been a crime to put gravy on it. The pineapple juice has enzymes that tenderize the meat. I put the brine/marinade and the turkey into a clean five-gallon bucket, which hung out in the cold garage overnight. On Christmas day, I cooked the turkey with the breast down to keep it juicy. It's not a good way to cook it if your primary goal is the presentation, but it sure does beat beautifully browned but dry meat. I carved it before bringing it to the table. No one cared. Click here for the recipe, which was recommended by one of my mother's co-workers. I think I will use this recipe forever.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Not too crafty crafting

Sometimes I sit down and write and write, only to delete every single word. That happened yesterday. That has happened every single time on my scripture blog since the first post, although I do have a few drafts I just haven't had time to flesh out.

The kids are home from school for the holidays, and so far today we have avoided any serious fighting. We do that by having all the neighborhood kids over. When there is no boredom, there is less fighting.

I could, I suppose, also arrange for my kids to do lots of crafts.

Ha ha ha hhaaaaaaaaaaa, ha ha! Hee hee! Whoo! Ha ha...

Sorry, about that. I'm not at all cynical about crafts and I like my kids to do them, but there are two factors that I'm always calculating: the clean-up (or, more correctly, the not cleaned-up factor. I just get so very tired of hounding them about cleaning up.); and the cost. Also the organizing factor. Three factors.

There are three factors that I'm always calculating: the clean-up factor, the cost factor, the organizing factor and the glue factor. Four factors.

I'm just kidding. There are just three. That was just a little gratuitous Monty Python reference. Nobody expected that.

There are lots of things the kids can make that cost little or no money. I know this because I have read all the books. My son, Child Five, can take a stick and a broken piece of plastic and create a world of his own for at least 45 minutes or more. He has a boundless imagination. I love that about him. My girls like to do more of the traditional kind of play, which involves heavy amounts of glue. Recently, Child Two created a whole castle out of saved toilet paper rolls and about 2000 feet of duct tape. She entered her castle in the Reflections Contest and it placed. I went to the cupboard for duct tape the other day and remembered where it had all gone.

I buy reams of paper at a time for the kids.

They craft. Oh, they craft. I have taught a couple of them the rudimentery skills of crochet (we have not progressed because they are easily frustrated. The lesson stops after the hook gets thrown the third time.), they love to cook, and we never have any crayons gathered into one place because they get used all over the house. I think the walls and floor actually eat the crayons, they disappear so fast. But as far as me being organized and presenting lovely beading projects or cute little flannel creations, or cards, forget it!

The one exception to this rule is at birthday parties. I hate sending home goody bags. Goody bags are mostly sugar. I prefer to send home something that the kids made and can play with. For Child Three's tenth birthday party on Saturday, we made ribbon streamers. They are the sticks with wide ribbons that spin and swirl. I even made the kids sand the ends. I would have preferred having them make something with some really cool power tools, but that would translate into a looooong party. Possibly dangerous, as well.

"Okay, kids, it's time to get out the routers for the lid of your hope chest now! And please make sure you don't point your nail guns at anyone. I mean you!"

Other than birthday parties, though, I don't organize crafting. They're on their own, unless I have something I'm doing and can share it with them. I once took a whole day to make some string art. I neglected everything. It turned out really well -- I made sure I chose colors that didn't channel the 70's. But I haven't done it since. Not enough time. My crafting tends to be long-winded, just like my writing about crafting.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Clever Title #5

The Christmas concerts are over for the year. Both Oldest Child and Child Two had concerts with their orchestra and band, respectively. Both did very well. Oldest plays violin and Child Two plays the trumpet. Two had the melody line in "Little Drummer Boy," and as I sat there listening to the cacaphonous sounds of a sixth grade band play, I was secretly pleased that Two was right in tune the whole time. If I pass nothing else on to my children, I hope they have an ear for pitch. There's nothing worse than musicians playing something just a little off and never correcting. That's almost worse than if they had no idea what pitch is entirely and just make up notes. My teeth ache and my stomach hurts when pitches are off. I do allow for age and ability, of course. I bet my parents' teeth were on edge much of the time while I learned to play the cello.

I reconnected with an old friend, R, today. R and I lived in the same apartment complex when our oldest children were still really little squirts. They moved away, we moved away. We still met up once in a while to chat and let the kids play, but then the time between visits got longer and longer. The last time we met at the park, I was pregnant with Child Six, so about 16 or so months ago. Life moves fast, time goes by. It's amazing how much time can pass before you even notice it. Maybe it's a factor of aging. When I was young, it was like time never moved. I remember asking my mother when 1979 was ever going to end. Now a year goes by and I hardly blink.

While we sat and caught up, R knitted a mitten. She's the one who got me into fibers and taught me how to spin wool on a spinning wheel. I can also spin on a spindle. These are very cool, if obscure, skills to have, I think. Although I haven't ever done much with it, I like to know that, given a hunk of carded wool, I could make some yarn. Then I would hand it to R to make something wonderful with it (I can crochet, but I don't knit very well). She also has a loom, on which she has created many beautiful textiles.

Those aren't her only talents, of course. I was just reminded of them while she knitted the blue sparkly mitten for a Christmas present.

That's it for me. I have nothing profound to say, no other news to report, no witty comments (if I ever had a witty comment). 'Bye, now.

Monday, December 15, 2008


Call me a demon slayer; or, at least, a demon butt-kicker.

Yesterday, my personal demon, the one assigned to me by the dark Powers That Be, sat on my shoulder and told me all the failures and weaknesses I've ever had, and probably even invented a few, he was that thorough. He's a fairly small demon, obviously, to be able to fit on my shoulder, but he packs a powerful punch. He has a go at me once in a while, and when he starts talking very insistently, I start to feel like some deformed and hideous excuse for a human being, a thing to be villified and run out of town. Then I get the urge to go sit in a closet, to hide from the world; for who in the world could love such a flawed and ugly worm such as myself?

Fortunately, I also have a shoulder angel. Shoulder Angel waits until I'm ready to have a full-blown pity party, and then he starts telling me how ludicrous Shoulder Demon really is. At first it's hard to believe anything Shoulder Angel is telling me because I'm fully in the power of Shoulder Demon, convinced I'll never stop making mistakes and having weaknesses that render me unloveable, but worthy only of the greatest contempt. But Shoulder Angel is as persistent as Shoulder Demon, and eventually I start listening to reason. Shoulder Angel is much more fun to listen to, in the end.

Yes, I am pretty flawed. I make a lot of mistakes. When I compare myself to others, I compare my weaknesses to their strengths. I am not this incredible perfection of a human being that I wish I could be sometimes, this ideal that I constantly compare myself to and find myself severely lacking.

So what? (That's Shoulder Angel talking)

Where is it written that we must achieve perfection before death? And where is it written that even the most flawed human on earth is not loved by the greatest being in the universe? On the contrary! It IS written that the greatest being in the universe has such a capacity for love that it doesn't matter how weak or small or wormlike you are or feel yourself to be. You are loved. And that makes you worthy of picking yourself up and trying again.

Mistakes will be made. Life will be messy. Weight will be gained; the house will not be perfect; the kids will fight; sometimes you say the wrong things (or don't say the right things); and sometimes others will be less than charitable to you. Sometimes you will be less than charitable to others, or to yourself.

And yet, life is glorious, exciting, and full of lessons to be learned. There are children who love you, true friends who overlook your flaws and shortcomings, love always felt when you ask that greatest being in the universe for a little boost. Then you FLICK that nasty Shoulder Demon off your shoulder and listen with satisfaction to his prolonged "Aaaaaaaaaaah!" fading out of earshot. You realize you don't have time to wallow in self-pity or regret or guilt. These things are unworthy and counterproductive and are tools of the Shoulder Demon. Since he's gone, why should you hang on to his tools? Throw them off, shake them away. They are dark things and burn when you touch them.

Shoulder Angel jumps up and down with glee and happiness, shouting out encouragement. Right the wrongs! Do the right! Learn the lessons! Bask in love! You won't end up perfect, but you'll keep trying. And the next time that Shoulder Demon winds his insidious words of self-hatred into your ear, you know Shoulder Angel will be right there to counteract them. It is his way.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Tantalizingly Salient Observations Regarding Onions and Calculus

The other night, the kitchen was redolent with the scent of onions.

Isn't redolent a great word? It's sophisticated and elegant. It just wants to be used more than it is, but, sadly, it's just not all that usable in casual conversation.

"Hey, how are you?"

I accidentally used the word salient during my last Gospel Doctrine lesson. I do not get stage fright speaking in front of large groups of people, but I do get an adrenalin buzz. The odd side effect is that my mind goes curiously blank trying to come up with applicable words, and then some $10 word like salient or corpuscular pops out (ha ha, no. I can't think of the last time I used corpuscular during a Gospel Doctrine lesson). When words like that pop out of your mouth, people start thinking you're intelligent. Hey, I don't mind at all. The truth is that I love words and have always had an easy time with spelling and definitions (the same can not be said, however, for mathematical concepts. During my calculus final in my freshman year of college, I spent most of the time figuring out how low a score I could get and still pass the class. I had a lot of time because I was pretty much clueless about how to solve many of the problems on the test, even though I'd just spent a semester trying to wrap my brain around the concepts. I did pass with a "C," which was much higher than I expected.) and so I'll often unconsciously use a $10 word instead of a 25 cent word that would do just as well.

Still, some words can't be substituted. If I said, "The kitchen was smelly with the scent of onions," it would have an entirely different nuance. You would wrinkle your nose in disgust and wonder at my cooking abilities or even my personal hygiene (yes, you would!). Never mind that people use onions all the time, and usually in the kitchen area. Smelly is just not elegant. Odorific is slang. Permeated might do, but even that word connotes a lingering stink that has become imbued in the very wood of the cabinets.

But why are we arguing about words here when the real question is why there was so much onion activity going on? Is this a normal occurrence in our household?

Well, to be honest, there is just as much garlic activity. Yum. But I digress.

I was experimenting with making onion blooms. For that purpose, I bought three large white, sweet onions and followed the recipe for the Outback Steakhouse Bloomin' Onion with two of the onions. The results were less than stellar, to my mind, although the onions tasted pretty good. They kind of reminded me of deep-fried tarantulas, to tell you the truth. I don't know why. The third onion I turned into onion rings, which were fabulous and disappeared very quickly as the kids came in to ask me what I was doing, why the kitchen was redolent with the scent of onions, and could they sample one or two of the onion rings?

My brother found a good use for the onion blooms. He piled the petals on top of his tuna melt, where they added their tantalizingly complex caramelized onion flavor to the tuna and cheese, transforming the lowly tuna melt into a gourmet delight.

Okay, he thought it was pretty good, but no one used the word tantalizing. That's another word that should be used much more often.

"How was work today?"

Saturday, December 6, 2008

10,000 Hours

I just finished devouring the book The Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell. That was a fantastic read. I'm not going to give a book review here, as that would be merely boring (as opposed to some of my other posts, ahem.)

One point struck me early on in the book, though, and I've been pondering it ever since. Gladwell talks about the 10,000 Hour Rule. According to those who study this sort of thing, it takes around 10,000 hours for anyone to become proficient at anything, whether it's music, math, a sport, or a skill. All those you see as being experts in an area have devoted 10,000 hours in the study and practice of whatever they are expert in. Bill Gates did. Joe Flom, the lawyer did. Canadian hockey stars do. Even Mozart and Beethoven put in 10,000 hours before they became really good. When we see these young and successful people rise to the top in their chosen profession, we tend to ascribe it to genius, but they were actually really, really dedicated to what they loved. Well, they were smart, too, which helps. But you can be really smart and not actually very good at any on thing; sort of the classic "jack of all trades, master of none" idea. You can be of average intelligence and be an expert with enough work. Those who focus and study will become an expert at 10,000 hours. They can't help it.

That makes me feel better. Why? Because I always figured I was just not quite smart enough to become an expert at anything. I'm not dumb (usually. Okay, sometimes.), but I am lazy. Laziness I can change, given enough incentive.

10,000 hours will take nearly 10 years of steady and disciplined work. Have you put in 10 years of study on something? If so, what? And why did you pick that thing? I would assume if you have the discipline to focus that long and hard you both love what you're doing and have a lot of encouragement to keep going. If you haven't put in 10,000 hours on any one thing, which area would you choose?

I figure I've put in 10,000 hours on some things merely by reason of being thrown into a role. I've certainly put in 10,000 hours of studying and applying cooking techniques, though it's never been in a classy restaurant setting. I've been cooking in Chez Casa, which is not your classy joint (I laugh at garnishes, and when have I ever, ever worried about good china?), but I get plenty of feedback from the patrons. Who have their elbows on the table. Occasionally they have used the chair fabric as a napkin, despite my protests.

I've put in 10,000 hours (maybe even 20,000) being a mom. Why don't I feel like an expert even with all that time put in? Maybe I've become an expert in some smaller aspects of mothering, like how to logically and confidently explain why monsters can not possibly be in the room at night (the answer, of course, is that the monsters' mommies won't allow them out of the house at night, as they need their sleep. Since monsters can't frighten you in the daytime, monsters are just not all that scary. Witches find small children so smelly that they wouldn't be caught dead in a child's room. They'd rather put their faces in a toilet bowl full of number 2s than go into a child's room. Poop is always good for a laugh.). I also multi-task pretty well.

I've definitely put in 10,000 hours reading, but I haven't focused on any one thing. I'm pretty good at reading. I know what is good and what is bad in literature and writing, and I even know why a lot of times, but I wouldn't call myself an expert at, say, Russian literature or French poetry, or even American novels. Maybe I'm getting closer to being an expert at science fiction. I don't mind working on that some more.

I think I will become an expert in the scriptures. They fascinate me, they're available, and I'm also following the commandments when I read them a lot. Multi-tasking! I would love to be a scriptorian. I will also have to do some major work on my memory so I can recall where scriptures are. I can recite them, but I usually can't remember their references.

Tell me what you are an expert in, if you are one already, or what you want to devote your 10,000 hours to. I'd love to know!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Eggsactly what were you thinking I would write about?

I'm not posting political solutions today. Mainly it's because I can't be bothered. Also, it's because I heard your sigh of relief. Don't think I didn't, and that I don't know you would have just clicked away had you seen something political. Still, I may, unexpectedly, solve the country's problems with little or no warning. I'm just saying...

A six month experiment I was running culminated today in a 67% success rate. That's pretty good for what I was doing. Six months ago I took 6 large eggs, covered them with a thin film of petroleum jelly, stored them large-end-up in their egg crate package, and put them in our basement food storage room to sit. Today, I horrified the children by getting them out to see how many were good and could be used for breakfast. Had I been thinking, I would have taken pictures. I'm not usually thinking in the morning, however.

The eggs looked pretty nasty. The petroleum jelly had molded a bit in places, and some of it had turned hard and yellow on two of the eggs. When I put the eggs in a bowl of water to see which ones were still good, the two with hard yellow jelly both floated and were subsequently tossed. The other four sank like troopers and were subsequently scrambled. On the good eggs, the whites were pretty soupy and the yolks were very flat, as one would expect from old eggs; but even though I opened them outside (just in case!), they smelled fine. Also, I washed the eggs with soap to get rid of the slimy petroleum jelly.

If we're ever in a situation where we can't get hold of fresh eggs, I will have some in my food storage for special occasions. Powdered eggs are great for baking, but not as fun to eat as you would a fresh scrambled or fried egg. Yech. And, lo and behold, Smith's is selling eggs today for 99 cents a dozen. I see a bunch of stored eggs in my near future.

Next experiment: preserving cheese with paraffin and cheesecloth. I'll let you know how that goes.

Monday, December 1, 2008


We had a lovely, lovely Thanksgiving Day. Family came, the kids laughed and played, and the adults talked and joked. I love Thanksgiving. It's like Christmas without the stress.

In fact, we told the kids that this year we aren't doing a load of presents. Yes, money is tight this year, but that isn't the real problem, in my view. We said this before the Walmart employee was trampled by crazy Black Friday shoppers. Need I say more? When our society gets to the point where things and stuff are more important than decency and goodness, Christmas as we know it has disappeared. It's time to take it back. This year will be about family and service, and, of course, the most important thing of all: the celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ. The kids are a little unhappy and it will take a while to adjust, but I hope that we can set some new traditions around here, traditions that keep us looking outside ourselves and what we want. I want my kids to look at how they can be of service to others, and how when that service is multiplied by others many times over, real joy and happiness are the result. What else did Christ come into this world for but to bring true joy? And, no, joy isn't really found in a new game system or remote control helicopter.

And now, I just can't help it. I hate to be all despair and gloom and doom, but I am alarmed. In fact, my mind's alarm bells are ringing so loud and frequently that I'm finding it difficult to sleep at night -- not because I'm scared (which I am, just a little, as anyone is kind of scared of an unknown change) -- but because I'm awake. Does anyone else see this? Are you putting some pieces together that create a very upsetting puzzle picture? I know I'm not the only one, as I run into people all the time who have similar thoughts, but I still think that, as a nation, we are asleep. At best, we are uneducated. At worst, we are willfully ignorant and indifferent.

What am I talking about? I'm talking about a conspiracy to crush our free nation. Don't even tell me I'm crazy. If you can't see it yet or haven't become a little suspicious that something is going on, you're crazy. Click here to see the latest puzzle piece fall into place. When you've read that, here is a comment from AJAX2 that I thought was well-written and thought out.

THE PLANNED DEMISE OF THE U.S.A.Thomas Jefferson and the other founders of this once-great country believed there was a controlling cabal that was crafting America's servitude. With the assistance of Heaven, they decided to fight those forces. Pastors fought with fiery sermons from the pulpit; newsmen fought with the power of the pen; statesmen fought in the halls of Congress; and merchants fought with the sacrifice of their material gain. Together, they lifted Lady Liberty to her feet and defeated the powers of darkness.

It took the global elite a long time to recover, but they have reemerged with a vengeance. They are now on the precipice of accomplishing what their great granddaddies failed to do: bring the "Liberty or Death" colonists under their power and control. Sadly, we no longer have the will to resist servitude. Our pulpits are too busy preaching a prosperity gospel; newsmen are in bed with the forces they once disdained; statesmen have been replaced with opportunistic, self-serving politicians; and merchants know no god but money. Hence, it is left to a small--and I mean very small--remnant to sound the clarion call for freedom and independence. Unfortunately, few seem to be listening to their cries.

2010 seems to be a banner year for these designers of despotism. That is the target year for the implementation of the North American Community, which will commercially unite the United States with Canada and Mexico. The global elite suffered a minor setback when the U.S. Senate failed to pass the Bush/McCain/Kennedy/Graham amnesty-for-illegal-aliens bill. But if you think that John Mccain is going to let that bill lie on the floor of defeat, you don't understand these people. Barack Obama will do everything he can to implement some kind of amnesty law. The reason? It is essential to the designers of despotism that our borders be eliminated. Yes, I am saying it: George W. Bush, Barack Obama and John McCain and many other 'elected' officials are part of the global elite that seeks America's entrance into an international New World Order. In fact, the President-elect will not offer any resistance to this obstinate and oppressive oligarchy.

Perhaps one day the American people will wake up and realize that they are being led as sheep to the slaughter. I'm just not sure that it will be soon enough, however. 2010 is just around the corner. There seems to be only one obstacle standing in the way of the globalists: America's citizens are the most heavily armed people in the world. That fact must surely stick in the throats of the globalists like a chicken bone. Thank God that America's founders put the Second Amendment in the Constitution. Without America's deep-rooted commitment to the right of the people to keep and bear arms, we would have been sold into slavery decades ago.

Without the intellectual understanding of the principles of freedom and the moral resolve to maintain those principles, however, guns, by themselves, will only protect us for so long. In the end, our strength and protection come from God, and not too many people these days seem to be interested in His opinion. Lady Liberty is walking very gingerly these days, and the path she treads is laden with traps and quicksand. The globalists have their handpicked puppets positioned to take up where The Three Amigos (George Bush I, Bill Clinton, and George Bush II) have left off. The pieces of the puzzle are almost all in place. 2010 just might be the year that Lady Liberty lowers her torch, folds her arms, and falls fast asleep. For what it is worth, however, I pledge no loyalty to this emerging New World Order. Neither will I let my country die without a fight. I will say it again: the battle today is not between conservatives and liberals or Republicans and Democrats. It is a battle between American citizens and globalists.

Amen. I couldn't have said it better myself. Next post I will consider some solutions. Maybe all can be solved by joining hands and singing. That would be nice.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

SF Nerds, Unite!

Yesterday after picking up Oldest Child from orchestra practice, I pulled up behind a tidy red minivan with a "Starfleet Academy" bumper sticker in the back window. Because the sticker was so unassuming, it took me a minute to register. Then I laughed. And then I had to explain to Oldest Child why I was laughing.

Here are a few ideas for other acceptable bumper stickers, as discussed by Husband and me later in the evening, between bouts of laughter.

"My child is an honor student at Starfleet Academy"

"This car runs on naquida"

"If you can read this, you're frakked"

"Borg vs. Wraith"

"This Car Is Built By AMERICAN Replicators"

I know there's at least one sf nerd out there laughing with me. If so, divert power from life support to the port and starboard nacells and comment with your idea for a bumper sticker.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Dumpster Diving

As I sat on the kitchen floor this morning pulling gooey handfuls of nastiness one by one out of the trash can, I contemplated some of the more interesting things one finds oneself doing as a parent. Child Six's new hobby is throwing anything he gets his hands on into the trash can. I had noticed one of his shoes under a layer of sugar and some orange peels, so I pulled it out. When we couldn't locate his other shoe, I went back to the trash can. I didn't find his other shoe, but I did find one of my pot lids, the fork half of the separateable salad tongs, and a cup. The other shoe turned up in the recycle bin. Now I'm wondering how many of the kitchen implements I've been missing ended up going to the dump or getting recycled.

It could be worse, of course. They could all be ending up in the toilet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

More about me. What a shock.

I have this weird line in the layout I'm trying to fix. Something went a little screwy with the HTML code, I guess. Now ask me if I could do anything about it without Husband's constant guidance.

No. And thank you for asking.

Husband is at another round of Parent/Teacher Conferences. He had them only a few weeks ago, as well, but because he's doing a special "extended contract" he teaches two tracks at the same time in his year-round school. He teaches Track A and Track D. Sometimes they're on at the same time, sometimes he only has one track in the classroom. But he still has to do conferences for each track. With all the bishoping stuff he has to do this week, plus the conferences, I may see him once in a while. I hope.

For lack of anything better to write about, I've decided to write about myself. Some of you may be surprised. I hardly ever write about myself in here. (Read that sarcastically, with your mouth pulled into a sneer) (and roll your eyes).

A recently found friend (Laurie) suggested I expand my List of Things You Might Not Know About Me from 37 to 100. I don't know if it can be done, but I'm willing to take up that challenge. I may have to go in stages, though, unless my brain suddenly erupts with youthful vigor and creativity. Ha. I've been thinking about food all day, mainly because I ran out of food money for the month and I'm forced to get creative with what's in food storage. Thus, I'm hungry. I don't feel like doing a lot of scratch cooking today; at this point, I'm even considering snarfing down the whole bottle of red ginger I know is lurking on the third shelf of the frig. So far I've resisted. I even exercised this morning.

Anway, to return to my list:

38. I am Queen of the Universe (possibly the Multiverse) in air hockey.

39. I only floss the teeth I want to keep.

40. I play a lot of ragtime music on the piano.

41. I still occasionally daydream about being in a rock band. I just think that would be cool. My kids would be completely embarrassed since I can't really sing or play any band intruments, but wouldn't it be cool?

42. I've always wanted to dye my hair bright blue but probably never will.

43. I broke my foot and then, two years later, I badly sprained my ankle, both times during ballet rehearsals for The Nutcracker.

44. I'm a Winter.

45. I've saved all the letters I've ever received.

46. When I was in junior high school I memorized the Deseret Alphabet, the phonetic language the early Church invented but never really used. I took all my notes in it, and I got so good at it I could write as fast as usual. I saved one of those notebooks and it all looks like gibberish to me now.

47. When I got called as the Young Women President, I felt exactly like the nerd I was in high school (and, obviously, junior high. Read #46) when I walked into that room full of young women. That feeling never went away. I guess I have issues.

48. I am on the Emergency Preparedness Committee in my ward and I am in charge of keeping The Master List. I tremble at the responsibility. I just hope I don't lose it.

That's it for me today. Dinner is ready, everyone's hungry, and I have a meeting tonight. I know you're asking what I managed to make for dinner out of food storage.

Chicken-Chili-Cheese Casserole, to which I added enchilada sauce, olives and beans. I'll let you know how it's received.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Note to skinny self: I miss you.

While I have started several drafts, I haven't posted anything in a few days. One of the reasons is that I find I'm battling a Facebook addiction all of a sudden. I hardly paid attention to it for quite a while, only opening my profile when I got an email of a message or comment or something. But a few days ago, I posted some mission pictures and started getting a barage of comments from people from all different times of my life (mostly the missionary part, though). It made me giddy with joy to hear from old friends. My relationships have always meant a great deal to me, as I find it very easy to love the people I've been blessed to have known all these years.

And while that addiction was going on, nothing really new happened in our household. The carpet in the spa that had Husband gagging while steam-cleaning and deodorizing it is still a little ripe, but not to the extent that it was before. I may venture out there and use the exercise equipment again when I get my courage up. And the gumption.

And speaking of exercising (which I haven't, yet) I have lost 6 pounds of the 50 I have to lose. Losing 50 pounds won't quite bring me back to my college weight, but it will bring me down, hopefully, to a level where I can run and not be weary, walk and not faint. Also, I may like looking in the mirror again.

My problem is that I had a superb metabolism before I started having kids. I could eat anything and not gain weight. And I ate! On my mission, where I was biking and walking miles and miles a day, I could eat a great deal. I could, in some situations, give the 19-year-old elders a run for their money (situations involving pizza or Indian food). Elders are legendary eaters, as we all know, so that should impress you.

When I got married and then pregnant, I was the typical skinny little thing whose belly didn't pop out until about 6 months or so. I didn't skimp on eating then, either, because I got so morning sick that eating was the only thing at times that kept me from being sick. When all was said and done with the delivery and the weight came off that was going to come off naturally, I had gained 10 pounds. Then I gained another 10 with the next kid. Then 10 each with each of the kids after that. I had lost all but 10 pounds of the weight right before I found out I was pregnant with Child Six. Of course, it all came back on. Now I've got the weight to lose again.

What weight gain does to a girl's self-image is extraordinary. Guys may put on a few pounds and still feel pretty good about how they look; but we women, who think we must also be perfect in every other aspect of our lives, feel like ugly failures. I can't say I speak for all women, of course. Only 99% of them. I have to admit that when I see some of these young married women have babies and then snap back to their impossibly skinny little selves again, I get a little angry. At whom? I don't know. It's not like I can hate someone just because she's skinny. I guess I get mad at my body for not doing that, as if I should be able to abuse it as I have with bad food and have it stay healthy for my vanity's sake. Up until just about a year ago, I was skinny in my dreams. Now, when I dream, I am my plumper self. I've been my plumper self in reality for about 12 years now. Does that mean I've accepted my body and it's amazing abilities despite my abuse of it? Or am I simply and finally resigned? I don't know. I never finished my psychology degree. (Hee hee. Psychology Degree. I would have been content with that for about five minutes.)

So I'm determined to finally lose the weight and make the necessary lifestyle changes that keep me healthy and keep the weight off. I can't deny my vanity. I was okay-looking back when I was younger. Even with the extra wrinkles I've gained along the way, I want to look in the mirror and not grimace. Also, our bodies really are incredible gifts. I need to take care of that gift to show my gratitude.

Mostly, though, I want to look good in the mirror.

Hey, whatever works.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Captain's Log, Supplemental

Today is my mother's birthday. She is a warm, wonderful woman who always tries to do the right thing and instilled in me through her personal example a love of the scriptures and a love for earnest and sincere prayer. While she went through some very difficult things in her childhood, she was strong enough not to pass along the bitterness of those hurts to her children. Because of her I had a wonderful childhood and I can pass for a functioning adult. She works hard at whatever she does.
Thanks for all you do, Mom. I love you.

We're trying not to look like white trash.

I've been doing some soul searching since the election. On the one hand, I'm really glad that we have overcome our national prejudice enough to elect an African-American to the office of president. I hope that it will spark dialogue and acceptance between the people of this nation and make us more unified. I am also glad I could vote.

On the other hand...oh, gosh.

I'm just too tired to go there.

It being Saturday yesterday, and a Saturday when Husband didn't have to be in 100 places at once no less, we got some stuff done around the house. The recent snow has melted and the day was absolutely lovely -- just the kind of day when you're really glad it's Fall. The air was crisp, but not too cold, and smelled full of all those complex autumn flavors: fallen leaves, wet earth, that indescribable "cool" scent that means summer is over.

The snow had, however, hid a multitude of sins in the front yard. To be honest, ours is the messiest front yard on the block. In our defense, we're the only house on the block with a multitude of young children, but that just exacerbates the difference between our "lived-in" look and the manicured, lawn-company-attended yards of our older neighbors.

Here is the front yard with our very tall flagpole on the left.

Our front yard is mostly cement. The previous owners (wisely, in my opinion, in a region that gets so little water) took out most of the lawn and added two more driveways, one that is a half-circle and one on the other side of the house from original driveway. This reduces the actual grass to a very small little patch, and that patch has a flower bed and tree in the middle of it. We got along with an electric mower for a very long time. In the front of the half-circle driveway, by the public sidewalk, there is a large planting bed with two huge pine trees.

Here you can see all the cut limbs of volunteer trees I pruned from amongst the pine trees but had nowhere to throw.

My goal yesterday was to sweep up the elephant's weight of pine needles that have fallen, clean out the gutters both by the street and up on the house, and sweep away the cobwebs by the front entry (I was cultivating them for Halloween as a sort of "green" decoration, but Halloween is over and now it's just creepy with no purpose.). I got most of that done, plus I found I had two compost piles I didn't even know about hiding under the shrubbery -- a black, rich mixture of rotted leaves and degraded lawn detritus. Bonus!

The downside to all that work was that I knew the moment I finished that it was just a small fraction of what needs to be done. *Sigh* The pine needles will come down again with the smallest wind, snow or drop in the DOW; the spiky, ornamental shrubs in one bed are still trying to take over the earth; and the ivy, though pretty, will continue to slowly and inexorably rip apart the wooden retaining wall around the pine trees. I didn't even get to the bikes. We also have this huge stainless steel sink hidden as much as possible around the west side of the house. We bought it from a school district auction, thinking we could put it down in the basement laundry room. It's a great sink. Really inexpensive. It's just a little too big to fit through the window into the basement. No chance of getting it around the corner at the bottom of the stairs.

Spiky, world dominating bushes running amok.

Wanna buy a sink?

Husband spent his day renting a steam carpet cleaning machine and cleaning the carpet in the exercise room we call "the spa" that is off the back of the house. Until very recently, we had homeless people living in it. That's a loooong story, and one I will not go into now (I heard your sigh of relief), but, suffice to say, the carpet had been pee-ed in multiple times. I cannot describe to you the stink of that room, what with the urine and the smell of unwashed bodies that lived out there. And just so you don't think we force people to live out there with no access to a bathroom in which to use the facilities and wash themselves, they were welcome to come in at any time to do so. Maybe I'll make another posting in which I explain that whole situation, but, for now, I'll leave it a bit of a mystery for those of you who don't already know the story. Husband kicked them out last week.

Anyhoo, back to the cleaning story. After Husband got that carpet cleaned and deodorized (oh, I hope it works! Fingers crossed!), he hauled the dining room chairs outside and gave them a good wash. I was surprised to remember that there are flowers on the fabric of the seats.

There is always so very much more to do than one mere human can accomplish in a day, but it was a start. Of course, while Husband and I were busy cleaning, we weren't encouraging (forcing) the children to do their work, so the inside of the house descended further into chaos. They're paying for that today. Even though it's Sunday, a day of rest, how can anyone rest in a house that looks like a permanent rummage sale? Their uncle is cracking the whip. As soon as I recover my energy from the after-church lunch scramble and helping the boys get changed out of their nice clothes, changing the littlest one's diaper and helping him take a nap, and refereeing various fights amongst the girls, I'll head back out into the trenches.

But not to the yard. Now the leaves have dropped. Maybe I'll call them mulch for the flower bed and go back inside.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

My kids look much less blurry in real life.

These are terrible photos. Horrible. We've got a pretty bad camera, but it's all I have, so that's what you get. Plus, I took these at the end of a the very long day because I was recharging the batteries (of course) when the evening started. The kids were tired, itchy, and wanted to change into their pajamas and gorge themselves on candy, and I had to convince them to stand for just a couple more minutes so I could take a picture of my and their hard work. All the photos are blurry (you don't need glasses) because we hadn't replaced three burned out bulbs in the living room. They are replaced now and it's much brighter in that room.

Child Two dressed as a Chinese girl. She got her face painted at the ward party (a large scar over her eyebrow, so I'm not sure what that made her. A Chinese girl involved in a terrible accident, I guess), and she looked really cute with eyeliner.

Child Three and Oldest Child were abducted by aliens. I made those expletive alien heads from papier-mache, which took hours, and put together the costumes. They look nothing like the lovely picture in the magazine where we got the idea. For one thing, the aliens were tired and kept looking up at the sky by the end of the evening. For another, I didn't want to spring for two pairs of slippers for the feet, so the feet ended up looking like stubs, even with socks. And these costumes were surprisingly expensive to make. Never again. I told the girls to save the parts of the costumes and we'll use them for other Halloween costumes in the future. This is what they were supposed to look like. This is the Alien Encounter costume from Family Fun magazine.

Child Five was Spiderman again. He didn't care. He just wanted some candy. He wasn't all that keen to get his picture taken, either.

Child Four was a kitty. A kitty with a flag painted on her forehead by the end of the evening, but a kitty nonetheless.

Child Six didn't wear a costume. He didn't seem to mind too much, as long as he had a sweet in each fist, and I was way too tired to care about costumes anymore. Husband and I didn't wear costumes, either. Every year I tell myself I'm going to get some really cool costumes for the two of us, and every year I don't.

Child Two was skating on the floor in the dining room this morning before school and got a huge splinter wedged into her foot. I got half the splinter out before we left ("MOM! Hurry up! We're going to be late for school!" Unsympathetic children.) and then couldn't remove the other half, which was wedged deeply under her skin. I left her home to soak her foot while I took the others to school and my mother to work, then came home to help her. She had already managed to get the rest of the splinter out and was ready to go to school, though she limped through the rest of her day.

Child Four came home and said to me in an English accent, "Oh, Mother, this is dreadfully awful. I have too much homework!"

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I unintentionally did not succeed in decapitation.

Child Six has not awakened early in the morning covered in poop up to his armpits the last couple days, Child Five's ear seems to have stopped hurting so much, and no one is throwing up any more, so I guess I can manage to get a post written today.

I thought I would go ahead and clarify some of the things you commented on in my birthday post. I'll simply go in order of the list.

#3: Why do I want to live in an underground house? Well, for the novelty, I guess. I also want to live in a straw bale house, a rammed earth house, and I love many different styles of traditional houses, as well. I would just love to build and build. When I go back and get my degree it will probably have something to do with construction.

#9: What song did Michael McClean sing about me? I'll give you a hint: you've never heard it and you never will. What happened was that one summer I worked for a family camp up in the mountains above Provo, Utah. We had all kinds of guest speakers, and one week the McClean family came up. When the weeks' campers went home on Friday, we staff had free time until Saturday afternoon, when the next batch of campers arrived. On the Friday night when the McCleans were there only three of us staff were still at camp. The McCleans hadn't gone down into the valley, so we looked all over camp in vain for the one VCR the camp owned so we could watch Anne of Green Gables. After a long and fruitless search, the three of us and the McCleans sat around in a room with a piano. Michael proposed a game. He started out with a story line and passed it to the next person, who told some of the story and then passed it along. It's a little intimidating to be telling a story to the best story teller ever and I think he got frustrated with us. After a while, he took over and told a fantastic story that he made up on the spot. Don't ask me; I don't remember it. I just know it was great. Then he sat at the piano and sang a song about each of us. Again, don't ask me because (sadly) I don't remember his song about me. It was short, it rhymed, and I was very pleased that for one moment, he knew my name. That is my big brush with one of the most famous LDS songwriters.

#13: Google my name and find out what band I played in. The Father of Five knows. That's how he found me after all these years. He's a fan of this band, who are native Minnesotans, and was looking up the band when he saw my name. If you don't know my real name (Barbara, I'm sorry. Eva Aurora is really the name of one of my Swedish ancestors), leave me your email address if you feel comfortable and I'll tell you. Or email FOF. He has my permission to tell you.

#16: Yes, my attempt to decapitate my brother was intentional. My next oldest brother (not the one whose birthday I wrote about recently) was my guinea pig as we were growing up. When I was about 7 and he was about 5, we were interested to know what happens to someone whose head has been cut off. We had chickens, and they do funny things when you cut off their heads. Was it like that for humans, we wondered? Standing in the kitchen, I took a serrated knife and began gently sawing away at my brother's neck (he helpfully stuck his neck out). I hadn't yet broken the skin when my mother, who was cooking at the counter, turned around, shrieked, and snatched the knife away. We were both disappointed at the time not to have our curiosity satisfied, but now he is married and has three beautiful children. It would have been a tragedy had I succeeded.

#18: When was I 100 feet from a tornado? My dad picked me up from ballet class on his motorcycle during some dicey weather. As we were motoring home, the air went still and the light turned that particular shade of green that always means tornado weather. Dad pulled over and pointed to the top of a hill that was just across the street. We watched the clouds swirl faster and faster, finally funneling and touching down briefly onto the hilltop. The funnel immediately went back up, much to my relief. I did not ride the wind of death that day.

#19. The bear. I was 15. I was babysitting in a house in northern Minnesota in the spring. The house sat right next to a large wood. After the kids were in bed, I was in the living room with the windows open and I heard a rustling of grass outside. I figured it was the dog. A moment later I heard the garbage cans on the back porch rattling and I went to the back door, thinking I would let the dog in. As I reached for the doorknob, a voice (I am NOT making this up) said, "Don't open the door!" I was quite taken aback. Then, after a moment, thinking I must have imagined it, I reached for the doorknob again. Again I heard the voice, only louder, "DON'T OPEN THE DOOR!" It hit me then that if Heavenly Father was warning me not to open the door then something bad must be on the other side of it. Completely freaked out, I walked shakily into the living room, sat down on the sofa and fell sound asleep almost immediately. It was weird. Later, I awoke to the sound of the mother pounding on the window to wake me up. She was really mad. "Who did this to my screen door?" she asked heatedly. I looked at the screen, which was shredded. I told her about what I had heard. She called the police, who failed to arrest any bears (though they found some incriminating footprints).

#20. My favorite pizza topping is pepperoni. I like most kinds of pizza (I even enjoyed St. Louis-style pizza when we stayed overnight there. I didn't know that there even was a St. Louis-style pizza before.) I enjoy gourmet pizzas and pizzas loaded with everything, but I always come back to the classic pepperoni. The best pizza is Papa Murphy's Pepperoni DeLite. I have to be careful with that because I could suck down the whole thing myself. Also delicious is their Mediterranean DeLite. Yum.

#23. I won a chicken in a chicken race way back when I was living in Idaho. Every year for Pioneer Day (that's July 24th for you non-Western, non-LDS folks), our ward would hold a big party at someone's farm. There were greased pole climbs, hog races, cow-pie throwing contests, all things pioneer. I raced with maybe five kids for a chicken. I won because I realized we were all playing follow-the-leader, stepped out of line and grabbed the chicken. We added her to our flock and she became a productive member of her society.

And now you know much, much more about me than you would ever have thought you could ever want to know. It's like I'm wearing a see-through backpack, hee hee.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

That political post you were worried about

Thank you for your kind birthday wishes both in the comments and emailed to me. I will address the questions posed about my list of things about me and try to answer them soon.

Today I have to get a little political.

Would it be too crazy for me to call Obama the devil? Yes, it would. I won't call him the devil, but some people are referring to him as the Messiah, which I find even more disturbing (look up Lewis Farrakhan sp?). And watch who is donating the money to him. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have given him more money than any other senator except Chris Dodd. Those who received these nice chunks of change (in the hundreds of thousands) have nothing bad to say about these two behemoths of inefficiency and bad accounting practices.

Even more damning is Joe Biden when he's telling the truth by accident. Oops.

Does this mean I support John McCain? Absolutely not. A vote against one is not a vote for the other. This year I'm going with the Constitution Party. I would have voted for Ron Paul, but since he's out, I'm voting for Chuck Baldwin.

I'm currently reading The End of America; Letter of Warning to a Young Patriot, by Naomi Wolf (who is on The List and gets a special search every time she tries to fly on an airplane.) I recently finished The Creature From Jekyll Island; a second look at the Federal Reserve by G. Edward Griffin.

Am I a conspiracy theorist? Yes. I don't consider that to be so far out there when you start following the money and looking at who has (and wants) the power. As Americans, we find it extremely hard to believe that our great nation won't just keep going and going while we enjoy our freedoms and liberties without constant vigilance. As Wolf points out, we have assigned to the professional sector (the lawyers and judges and activists) the job of making sure our freedoms are intact while we go about our busy lives. The truth is that we are on a fast track toward...dare I say it? Fascism, totalitarianism, whatever you want to call it.

Ask yourself, while you read the Book of Mormon, which we are supposed to liken to ourselves, why the prophet Mormon put so much about the political happenings of the Nephites into a book compiled for us, people who live 1600 years after Moroni finished his last words. Read about the ancient secret combination that pops up at the beginning of the Jaredite kingdom in the book of Ether, which is revived among the Nephites and Lamanites by Gadianton. This secret combination is the same in our day: men and women who want to control the world and all the people in it for power, money, ideological reasons, it doesn't matter. The end result is tyranny and oppression. Always. If this tyranny isn't accomplished with massive bloodshed, it is accomplished with a slow eroding of our liberties. One by one, faster and faster, they disappear, until suddenly we find ourselves choked by a noose. The only way out is revolution at that point.

I will stop pontificating now. I just have to get it out sometimes.

By the way, I have launched another blog I call "Scripture Study" (Husband suggested "The Small Plates of Eva"). I'm still tweaking the visual layout, but you're welcome to read and comment. It's stuff that I'm studying in the scriptures and what I think about it. I'd love to read your thoughts (or questions) on these subjects, especially as I'm now a Gospel Doctrine teacher and can use all the ideas I can get.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

There. Me in a nutshell.

It's my birthday. I am again taking a page from Allyson and going to list 37 things about me that you might not know, but I'm only doing this once. With this many things listed there will be nothing you don't know about me next year.

1. I hate it when people don't put their shopping carts away. Really hate it. It burns me up.

2. I can not wear socks on carpet. It's the same shuddery feeling other people get when they hear fingernails on a chalkboard.

3. I would love to live in an underground house if it had enough skylights.

4. I melt whenever I hear Chopin.

5. My eyes always skip chapter headings. I have to consciously go back and make myself read them.

6. I would never have been a great ballerina; I realized that when I went on point and kept getting foot cramps because my feet are too flat.

7. I don't mind grocery shopping but I HATE putting the groceries away.

8. I like folding laundry.

9. Michael McClean sang a song about me.

10. I have been a lab assistant, a day-camp counselor, a clerk at a convenience store, and on the maintenance crew at a family campground.

11. I was almost a model in a fur catalog.

12. We once lived next door to Hugh Nibley. Husband borrowed a wrench from him just to meet him.

13. I once played cello for a famous? band, and since I was paid for it, I guess I'm a professional musician.

14. I was once a telemarketer for Fingerhut. I cannot tell you how much I hated taking people's money for the JUNK they sell.

15. I know just enough about Feng Shui to be really dangerous.

16. I once tried to decapitate my brother. Fortunately I failed.

17. When I was a kid in Idaho, I used to ride my bike 6 miles into town just to go to the library.

18. I was once 100 feet away from a tornado.

19. I was almost killed (or at least seriously injured) by a bear when I was 15.

20. I can eat more pizza than the rest of the family combined, Husband included. And I'm proud. PROUD!

21. I think a lot about the relativity of time, size, and the nature of the universe.

22. Although it sounds cliche, I absolutely love hearing wind in the trees. I can sit and listen to it for hours.

23. I once won a chicken in a chicken race.

24. I talk to myself a lot (but I don't hear voices).

25. I am good at thinking up ideas but not so great at the follow-through.

26. I really like Bollywood films.

27. Most of my clothes are blue, green or black. It just happens.

28. If I had the time, I would learn to be a master carpenter.

29. Ask me what model a car is and I will get it wrong 100% of the time unless I've made an effort to read it on the actual car. Well, I can identify a Mustang. That's it, though.

30. I still don't know the rules for football. Nor do I care.

31. I love babies, any babies. If I see a baby I can't help smiling at it and wanting to hold it.

32. While I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living Magazine, I have no illusions about my abilities to duplicate anything in its glossy pages.

33. When I have nightmares (which isn't often) it's usually about deep, dark water.

34. If I were an animal I'd be a wolf.

35. When I was younger and went to the library, people used to ask me for help because they thought I worked there. I helped them anyway.

36. I am fairly helpless when it comes to hair. I don't even know how to do a "messy bun." My girls are disgusted.

37. The sight of lots of blank notebooks, paper and sharpened pencils has a strangely euphoric effect on me.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

'Bots serviced here

Every time I pass this sign I have an Asimov moment.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

More to life

The kids have Thursday and Friday off school, so they're all here with their crowd of friends. Husband also had these two days off and wanted to work on his book, but found the noise distracting. He had also collected a group of kids who were threatening to smother him in their attempts to get close enough around him to see what he was doing. He loves our kids dearly, but as he is around multitudes of children in his classroom all day, every day, sometimes he just needs a break. After playing a few rounds of UNO with Child Four, he took off to the bishop's office to be quiet and write.

Child Three went to a friend's house yesterday and came home with her coat pink and beautiful. Apparently, her friend's mom had asked if she could throw her very dirty coat into the wash. I don't know whether to feel more intensely embarrassed or grateful. I know this mom and she is a wonderful person who keeps a very, very clean house. I find it somewhat of a superwoman thing for her to be able to do, but I quit comparing my house to hers a long time ago. My house is what it is. I simply can not be bothered to spend all my time running cleaning defense, especially in the kitchen. I quickly turn into the Mom Witch, yelling at the kids for every mess no matter how small, stressed to the point of heart failure. I knew a woman in a former ward who told me that when her kids were small she used to follow them around all day, cleaning up behind them. She was fanatical about it, to the point where she actually suffered a nervous breakdown. Her doctor warned her to quit worrying so much about it or she would literally die. There are other things in life than a house so clean at all times that you could invite photographers in to take pictures of the living room for a magazine spread.

Here is Child Three with her clean coat. She's in the kitchen, where I've been baking bread today.

Here is the coat closet just moments ago. I have tried and tried. The kids seem to be allergic to hangers.

One of the other things in life: I went to the music store from which we rent a trumpet (Child Two) and a saxophone (Husband) and tried out the cellos. (My own cello is no more. I opened the case one day and found that the neck had exploded off the body, the wood literally shredded. It was a shock, to say the least.) I had Two, Five and Six with me, so it was fairly irresponsible of me to even think it, but I asked the nice lady if I could sit down and play a cello or two. Two took charge of Six, who would have ruined absolutely everything in the store in five seconds, and I tuned up a cello and pulled the bow across the strings. Ohhhh, it was like butter. I knew in that instant how horrible my old cello had been and that it was better that it had destroyed itself, to inflict pain no more on the ear of man. You don't buy a cheap cello off the Internet and get a butter-soft, mellow smooth sound like the cello I played at the music store. The old one sure was shiny and pretty, though, and I was desperate to get my hands on a cello. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

I still have a grand piano to play on, and that is a big consolation. Now I just need a constant stream of money for both a cello and endless piano and cello music. That's all. I don't ask much.

Child Four's scars are healing nicely. This is a picture (taken and posted with her permission) of the large scar. The smaller one is higher up on her thigh. Note the paint spatters on the wood floor. Remember that I did not put those there.

Monday, October 13, 2008

The Many Shades of Chard

When I asked for ideas for posts, I wasn't prepared for David S.'s suggestion of "More chard. All chard, all the time." Wow. That kind of threw me for a loop. Here's a guy who really loves chard and wants to know as much as possible about this fascinating and delicious deep green vegetable, so much so that he wants me to devote all my future posts to chard alone.

Well, David, I can't go quite that far, I'm sorry to say. Even you might get tired of reading about chard, as hard as that is to believe right now. Plus I would have to rename my blog, maybe to "Love, Kisses and Chard" or "Chard! The Best Gift From the Swiss Aside From Numbered Bank Accounts and Lederhosen." (And then I would be printing false information because chard didn't come from Switzerland. It is only "swiss" chard to distinguish it from French varieties of spinach, but I didn't have to tell you that, did I?)

Still, there are a number of interesting things about chard. For instance, we call this vegetable "chard" because the French got confused (insert joke here) and called both this plant and another, similar plant, called cardoon, "carde." The leaves are deep green and the ribs can be white, green or red. Both are edible. The young leaves are okay to eat fresh in salads, but the older it is, the more likely you are going to want to cook it. Here is a nutrition chart I stole from a website:

As you can see, this is an amazingly nutritious vegetable to eat. Not only will it build your bones, it will also clean out your colon, improve your lung health, help you see in the dark and become one of Oprah's new diets. It will NOT allow you to fly, however, no matter what anyone says, especially as that claim has not yet been approved by the FDA. (In fact, the FDA isn't really sure swiss chard is all that good for you, since drug companies can't patent it. If chard is ever patentable by drug companies, you can rest assured that you will officially gain great benefits from it for an exorbitant price. Eat it now while you can afford to.)

Any diet should be high in leafy green vegetables. Don't believe me? Just ask my mother. She pounded that into my head all the time I was growing up. But it turned out she was right. Who knew? Swiss chard is a wonderful addition to your diet. Eat it fresh, sauteed or boiled with just a little vinegar, salt and pepper. And bacon. Mmmm.

David, I know this isn't enough to satisfy you and I'm sorry that I can't devote all my writings to chard. I hope you understand. While chard is a worthy subject, I have other things I want to write about, but I promise to occasionally re-visit this little miracle of a plant. I don't think we've plumbed all the depths of swiss chard yet.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Christ in the Americas

Child Five, ever a fountain of funny declarations, told me that my "dinner hit his jackpot!" I was glad to oblige.

Today was my first time as an official teacher in the Gospel Doctrine class at church. I have substituted for the teachers before and was even asked to be a guest teacher once, but now it's my official calling. I love this calling. I learn so much while I'm preparing the lessons.

Today's lesson was on 3 Nephi 8-11, the pinnacle event of the book. It's when Christ comes to visit his other sheep, the Nephites and Lamanites, after his resurrection. At the time that he died on the cross on Calvary, the New World experienced three hours of such cataclysmic events that they changed the whole face of the land. Mighty cities fell into the earth during horrific earthquakes, other cities were drowned (probably by tidal waves), others burned to the ground from lightening strikes like nothing ever seen before, and cities were buried in avalanches. Some people were carried away in massive tornadoes. The whole geography of the land was changed: mountains fell down and valleys rose up (ever read those tabloid headlines about unexplained straight roads sitting on top of mountains and how they must be alien landing sites? I figure those were roads that used to be in the valleys and were heaved up thousands of feet) and untold numbers of people were killed. After it was over, the survivors had to deal with a darkness so encompassing that they not only couldn't see but also couldn't light any fires. For three days they wept and wailed for their dead, and probably for themselves, while the darkness surrounded them.

Suddenly, a voice comes out of heaven, a voice that everyone in the land can hear. "Wo, wo, wo unto this people; wo unto the inhabitants of the whole earth except they shall repent; for the devil laugheth, and his angels rejoice, because of the slain of the fair sons and daughters of my people; and it is because of their iniquity and abominations that they are fallen!"

The voice goes on, listing the cities and how they have been destroyed. It also tells why certain cities were destroyed; for instance, the cities of Gadiandi, Gadiomnah, Jacob and Gimgimno were sunk into the earth because they had killed the prophets and believers of Christ. The city of Jacobugath was burned because it was most evil. The people there had fostered the organizations that tore apart the government and had taken away the freedom of the people in order to get power.

Finally, after listing all the wickedness of the people of those cities, the voice begins a message of hope to the survivors. It tells them that they were spared because they were more righteous than the others who were killed. And then the voice declares its identity in 3 Nephi 9:15:

"15. Behold, I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are. I was with the Father from the beginning. I am in the Father, and the Father in me; and in me hath the Father glorified his name.
"16. I came unto my own, and my own received me not. And the scriptures concerning my coming are fulfilled.
"17. And as many as have received me, to them have I given to become the sons of God; nd even so will I to as many as shall believe on my name, for behold, by me redemption cometh, and in me is the law of Moses fulfilled.
"18. I am the light and the life of the world. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end."

The pinnacle, the most beautiful part of the book is in 3 Nephi 11. The aftershocks of the earthquakes have finally stopped. Some of the survivors who are gathered near the temple in the land of Bountiful are discussing the things they've heard and experienced, when they again hear a voice, so quiet and still, but piercing, that they don't understand it the first two times. The third time they understand. This time it is God the Father. He says, "Behold my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, in whom I have glorified my name -- hear ye him."

The people look up and see a glorious being descending out of heaven. He is dressed in a white robe and he comes into the middle of the crowd, who is stunned silent. He says, "Behold, I am Jesus Christ, whom the prophets testified shall come into the world." Then he allows every single person there to come forward and touch the marks of the nails left in his hands and feet and the slash of the spear in his side. Even if every person (there were about 2500 there) took only a few seconds, it would have taken around seven hours for this, and yet Christ wanted everyone there to be a witness that they were actually seeing and touching the resurrected Savior, just as they had been told by their prophets for centuries.

Christ stayed with these people for several days, teaching them many of the things he taught the Jews on the other side of the world. He also tells them that they are the "other sheep" he spoke of to his apostles and disciples in the Holy Land, and that he will visit all his sheep (other remnants of the Ten Tribes of Israel) scattered throughout the world and give them the same lessons and commandments he gave to the Jews and the Nephite and Lamanite survivors.

It's a testament to me that Heavenly Father knows each one of us, individually, and that we are all equally important to Him. There are so many wonderful things He said in these chapters I didn't even touch. He blessed the children, and they were surrounded by angels. I wish I could have seen it.

I have decided I will start an additional blog where I can write about scriptural insights and thoughts, and any who want to read and comment are more than welcome to do so. That's why I learn so much in these Gospel Doctrine lessons: the people in the class make comments that give me additional insight. I love it.

The above painting is by Walter Rane, entitled "One-by-One."

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Two first kisses

You're all very lucky.

I had started a new post several times, and what kept coming out was political. That in itself isn't so much of a problem, as it's something I think about a very great deal, but the post itself was not very organized. I rambled badly in my desperate attempt to condense and clearly state some things that I feel very passionately about at this time. Once I get it organized, I'll let it loose. I can't help it. There are things I must say.

So how are you lucky, then? Clearly, you'll still end up seeing a political post in the future, so where is the good fortune?

Today, my friends, I tell you about my first kiss, an idea suggested by Shanna. But I'm not going to tell you about my FIRST first kiss alone; no, I will tell you about several first kisses. Maybe two. We'll see as this progresses how embarrassed I become with the whole subject.

My very first kiss happened when I was a sophomore. I was sweet sixteen and finally allowed to date, not that anyone was banging down my door or anything. I got to be friends with a group of guys who liked to play a Marvel Comics role-playing game, kind of like Dungeons & Dragons but much less weird and geeky. One of them was a senior, a cute guy I'll call Norm (because it's nothing like his real name) who seemed to always have one girlfriend after another. We started hanging out more and more, usually with one of his friends, so it was never a dating situation. One evening, Norm and his friend, Leo, were over at my house hanging out and watching TV. Some sparks had been flying between Norm and me, and when they left, Leo headed out to the car and Norm lingered on the doorstep for a moment. He claimed later that I kissed him first, but I swear I would never be that forward. I do remember going upstairs after they left and thinking, "Huh. So that's what a kiss feels like." Norm and I dated for about seven months (an eternity in high school, no?) and then I got replaced with the next girl. I had seen the writing on the wall and didn't get my heart broken, however, and we wrote the occasional letter after he went to college.

Fast forward to 1991. I was all dated out. I had gone to BYU and met some amazing, wonderful young men. I dated quite a bit, which I thought was pretty crazy since none of the guys in high school or in my ward thought I was dateworthy. But I was done now. I was hoping I was going to marry a certain young man (though he wasn't aware of his fate) but first I was going to go on a mission. As an explanation for those of you who aren't LDS, missionaries are not allowed to date in any way during their missions. Fraternization between male and female missionaries or missionaries and people they meet in their areas of service is prohibited because it would seriously detract from the sacred work we are sent to do: share the gospel. (You can, however, write to anyone, male or female, who is not within the mission boundaries) Fine with me. I was done dating. I figured that after my mission I would go back to BYU to finish my degree and harrass the guy I wanted to marry until he either told me to get lost or agreed to marry me.

I went to England on my mission. In my second area, I met a Welsh elder, my zone leader, and knew within a few hours that I was going to fall in love with him. It's wasn't a dreamy revelation, though. It was a sudden knowledge, a solid THUNK of revelation, the kind of thing you know is true without knowing how you know. Since we were both missionaries, I started praying to Heavenly Father to take the feeling away. I wanted to be a good missionary, to focus on the work. The feeling increased, however, and then I knew I was going to marry him. You LDS returned missionaries are out there snickering in sad disbelief. Yes, it was the Spirit telling me, sometimes to the point of physical pain, that THIS was the guy I would marry. Don't even lecture me. I know. I know. I couldn't believe it either. Yet, I knew it and I was glad, glad, glad.

Long story short, Elder Future Husband got transferred to another area. One night he called me (again, no lectures) and told me he had been saying his prayers and the spirit had told him to call me and ask me to marry him. I fell over and said yes. We went and saw the mission president a couple weeks after that to keep everything in the open, and I was so sure President was going to send me home or transfer me to another mission. He was new and I didn't know how he'd react. Turns out, his parents met as missionaries and he felt the spirit there in the office. He gave us strict rules to follow about talking or writing to each other, and we followed them. I had ten months left of my mission at this point, and Elder Future Husband finished his mission a couple of months later and went home to work and get his visa for the United States.

By the time I finished my mission, I'd been engaged for ten months and had never held his hand, given him a hug, or, of course, kissed him. Most would find that a little odd. I went home and Future Husband followed me to the States five days later. I was so nervous as I went to pick him up at the airport. I couldn't sit still and wait, I had to walk and fidget. Finally he was here and I saw him coming through the door. I waited for a hug, for him to dip me and smooch me right there, anything, but he walked right by me and put his stuff down on a chair first. THEN, he hugged me. Then he kissed me. I was so flustered after that I couldn't remember what the car looked like. My parents had bought it while I was on my mission and I had only driven it a couple times, so we walked around the parking lot while I stupidly tried to get my head in order and remember anything about the car. He kissed me again in the parking lot, which didn't help. Since we aren't still wandering in that parking lot, it's obvious I did eventually locate the car. Then I kidnapped him and we went to the shore of Lake Superior and talked (and smooched) until he felt ready to meet my family. A month and a half after that we got married in the Salt Lake Temple.

It was the perfect way for me meet Husband. Heavenly Father knows me well.

This is long. I even edited a bunch in the middle. That's the story of my first first kiss and my last first kiss.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Fiat Money used in Ancient China

Here's something Marco Polo wrote:

"The Emperor's mint then is in this same City of Cambaluc, and the way it is wrought is such that you might say he hath the Secret of Alchemy in perfection, and you would be right!...

"What they take is a certain fine white bast or skin which lies between the wood of the tree and the thick outer bark, and this they make into something resembling sheets of paper, but black. When these sheets have been prepared they are cut up into pieces of different sizes. The smallest of these sizes is worth a half tornesel... There is also a kind worth one Bezant of gold, and others of three Bezants, and so up to ten.

"All these pieces of paper are issued with as much solemnity and authority as if they were pure gold or silver; and on every piece, a variety of officials, whose duty it is, have to write their names and to put their seals. And when all is prepared duly, the chief officer deputed by the Kaan smears the Seal entrusted to him with vermillion and impresses it on the paper, so that the form of the Seal remains stamped upon it in red; the money is then authentic. Any one forging it would be punished with death. And the Kaan causes every year to be made such a vast quantity of this money, which costs him nothing, that it must equal in amount all the treasures in the world.

"And with these pieces of paper, made as I have described, he causes all payments on his own accounts to be made, and he makes them to pass current univerally over all his Kingdoms... And nobody, however important he think himself, dares to refuse them on pain of death. And indeed everybody takes them readily."

(Original from Henry Thule's edition of Marco Polo's Travels)

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Anorexia and a Speed Bump

Well, gosh. It's been a while. I kicked my own behind so hard I didn't land until today. On the way down I took minutes for a couple PTA meetings, got cars repaired and registered, created posters for a little lost kitten we found, drove kids here and there and here again to various activities, watched the LDS General Conference (which was wonderful!), and planned the budget with Husband. Among a few other things, of course. I'm thinking about cooking meals three times a day, day in and day out.

When I asked for ideas for posts, MKShelley suggested anorexia. Considering she had just read my post about swiss chard and pumpkin soup, I'm assuming her suggestion was in reaction to foods that may be on her BLECH! list. She isn't the only one who would find those particular foods somewhat distasteful. My children are sometimes more than a little dubious about my experiments with new food items, although I think I've instilled in them a healthy fear of whining about it to me. They usually praise my cooking and eat as much as they can stand, then politely decline second helpings and obediently take their dishes to the kitchen.

HA HA HA HA HA! Ahhh...(wiping tears of laughter from my eye)...I kill myself. "Politely decline." That's hilarious.

So, about anorexia: I wouldn't recommend it. Jack Weyland wrote a book about an LDS girl who had anorexia and bulimia. The title of the book is a girl's name, though I can't remember which one (and those of you familiar with Jack Weyland will have yourself a little chuckle about that). I read it recently when Oldest Child was going through a Jack Weyland phase, and it did really educate me about the thought patterns of someone who is suffering from one or both of those diseases. It's quite scary. I feel bad even being flippant about it at all.

On the other hand, when someone says "anorexia," the first thing that pops into my mind is a certain Saturday Night Live skit with Christina Ricci. She plays a starving Eastern European woman on a gameshow called "Who Wants to Eat?", similar in format to "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?" The prizes are all food items, from a bag of rice to a live goat. The questions, however, are all American trivia, and as she incorrectly answers each one, the lost prizes are paraded in front of her. "Can't I just smell it?" she asks as the bag of rice disappears. When she is asked about a disease in which a person refuses to eat because they think they are fat, she is astounded. "You mean, they have food but they refuse to eat it?!" she cries.

It was funny in a painful way.

UPDATE (10/6): I totally forgot MKShelley is a vegan, so assuming the reason she suggested anorexia as a topic because of some distaste for chard and pumpkins was just a little stupid of me. Please accept my sincere apologies, MKShelley. If you'll read the comments for this post, you'll see the reason she offered up "anorexia" is because she was reading about it. Don't let my stupidity put you off any more post suggestions, if for nothing else than to find out how I can make hash of it!

And now for something completely different:

Monday, September 29, 2008

Kicking my own behind

Ambition: nil
Things I have done that really need doing: none
Things I have to do: many
Result: stress
Solution: get off my lazy butt and get some stuff done and quit whining about it already!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

We don't need no stinkin' black pudding!

Sorry I haven't written in a few days, but I was baking. I made bread, waffles, pretzels and more bread. I also made cheese, which turned out a lot like mozzerella but without quite the same smooth-melting properties. Today, for a change, maybe I'll make pancakes. If I make enough waffles and pancakes and then freeze them, the kids can heat them up in the mornings while I'm groggily dealing with my magnetic pillow and Child Six. Sure, pancakes and waffles are only PART of a nutritious breakfast, but even if I was in a state to be cooking up a farmhand's breakfast, half the kids won't eat meat and the other half don't like eggs. I supppose I could do an English breakfast and fry up some bread, tomatoes, beans, mushrooms and bacon (for the meat lovers), but get serious: Is this ever going to happen on a weekday?

And NIX on the black pudding. No way are my kids eating congealed pig's blood in sausage form early in the morning, even if they are in trouble for not getting their chores done.

Anyway, thanks to those of you who contributed ideas for posts. Expect to see those soon. Gotta go. I got bakin' to do!

Saturday, September 20, 2008


The dining room carpet came out today, and the floors are paint-speckled and have some other interesting problems. Wheee! Husband is dead tired after all that work. I took Child Six out of the house to prevent any injuries to his little self. We went to the park and to a discount store to look around until we got the all-clear to come back home.

I was going to make something to use up the swiss chard in the fridge but I can't find the recipe I had for it. Not to worry, though. When I answered the kids' questions about what dinner would consist of, Husband said sarcastically, "Mmmmm! Sounds good." The word "chard" doesn't conjure up good images, I suppose, if you don't know if you like it or not.

Chard, chard, chard.

It starts sounding strange when you say it over and over.

Rhymes for "chard:" lard, pard, tard, guard, bard, card, hard, yard, shard, pumpkin.

No, pumpkin doesn't technically rhyme but I was thinking about making pumpkin soup and it erupted from my stream of consciousness.

Look, I know this posting is silly but what are ya gonna do? Write a comment with your topic of choice and I will make a post out of it. Then you have vested interest in reading this. Maybe I WON'T write about chard and pumpkins. One can always hope.