Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Cheese!

Because we live with (and love) SmallDaughter, we have a mostly dairy free household. And no, it isn’t the lactose (thank you for asking), it’s the milk proteins, specifically casein, but some of the others, too, that cause problems. Apparently lots of non- and less- verbal people have problems with it. We just try not to have any in the house because she LOVES it, craves it, finds it and eats it with abandon (she can easily eat a pint of sour cream, a stick of butter AND a block of cream cheese in one sitting--not kidding).

Anyway, that being said, it explains my families unholy adoration of all things dairy—why LargeBoy stuns his scout leaders with his ability to chug chocolate milk, why BigGirl asked for a pint of cottage cheese for her birthday—and why I am sitting around with a Post Christmas, Brie-induced grin on my face!

I LOVE Brie. I am not certain whether I love the creamy, buttery inside best or the lovely, crusty outside. I just know my loving sister gave me Brie and Dark Chocolate in my Christmas gift, and I am a very happy girl. Albeit, getting fatter every second.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Trials

Sometimes the crises in the lives of those you love happen in a nice, tidy order (crisis, resolution, next crisis...) but often, they seem to happen all at once. While my computer has been out of whack, I have been blindsided by two painful tragedies.

One is the much beloved oldest son of my dear friends. In a completely stupid, tragic loss, this amazing pile of potential chose to fall into the spiralling, gaping pit of terminal selfishness, and wasted a life that had the promise of changing the world.

Instead of choosing to use his gifts and his tremendous talents, he squandered them, and died as yet another pathetic, nameless, faceless number on a police blotter in a far away city. There was nothing redeeming in his death, except that those he left mourning behind him know that there are no more grenades of his stupidity left to shatter their hearts even further.

It is possible to die of selfishness and stupidity, and the problem with the selfishness vortex is the way that it blinds those who fall for it's glittering attractions (the siren call of "me, Me, ME"!) to the pain and piles of crap that their choices fling in ever increasing circles out onto those who love them.

But not all pain comes from stupidity. Some just comes from mortality.

The other trial is in the life of somebody who is so @#$%^& close to perfect, you would HATE her if she wasn't so genuinely sweet and good, and...well, perfect.

She is my cousin, younger than I am. I watched her grow her whole life--from her long and anxiously awaited birth all through her growing up. She did great in school--both socially and academically. She was loving and excellent, and we were all overjoyed when she dated wisely and responsibly, and chose a handsome, smart (balance of perfection, even!) returned missionary young man to marry. They had three wild and crazy little boys (exactly the right kind of wild and crazy) while her husband completed law school at a prestigious school close enough that they could visit a few times.

They graduated, and moved across the country, back to where they were close to grandparents and family. He got a great job, in a good city. Life was excellent(the kind of excellent that comes as the mom of 3 boys under the age of 6).

And then...
Surprise!

They found out the good news and the bad news:
She is pregnant (Yay!) with a GIRL (YAY!) in the spring, near Easter.
AND.
Her handsome husband was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer.

Yeah. Whoa.

Time to stop and think for a bit--and then, get back up and keep living, because you really only have 2 choices, and the other one stinks!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Computer Problems

I am having spontaneous computer crashing issues, so the blogs are few and far between. Just in case things are not resolved, I wanted to send my wishes for a Christmas filled with the love of those around you, as well as loved ones far away, and that we can be grateful for the amazing blessings we already have. I really don't need any more.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Life goes on

Isn't it wonderful? Broken hearts heal, miracles happen, babies are born. I don't ignore the bad things in life, but I really appreciate the good things. This cold and frosty morning after I fed the chickens, I looked up, and there in the overcast sky were beautiful jet trails. I love to think of all those people traveling--going exciting places. I love to fly, especially when you take off on a grey, miserable morning, and then suddenly break through the cloud layer to amazing sun and blue clear skies. I am grateful for the long awaited appearance of a certain beautiful young lady (Phoebe Pearl, 8 lbs, 12 oz.--exactly what BigGirl weighed!).

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Songs for the Broken Hearted

When I was in college, I took a music appreciation class (I find it very ironic how often I use the things I learned in "filler" classes, and how seldom I use the things from my required classes!).

We learned about several studies that have shown that when you are feeling a strong emotion (joy, anger, grief), you should listen to music that matches your emotion.

While that seems like a "duh" statement, it isn't. People have a tendency, when they (or someone else) are experiencing a "negative" emotion like sorrow or anger, to put on cheerful music--which has the result of really ticking them off!

If you want to be in a better mood, first listen to music that matches, then, very gradually work your way (musically) to more cheerful songs.

So, for the one I love, whose heart is broken, I am adding a playlist of heartbroken songs. It cheers up at the end. I know you will get through this--but it won't be fun (it never is!).

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Thoughts on the "Swine Flu Pandemic"

We have been hearing for months about this "worldwide pandemic" outbreak of the H1N1 swine flu virus. You can find out for sure if you have swine flu here.

I am not exactly sure what is going on, but for anyone who actually stops and LOOKS RATIONALLY at the information, what is going on is actually an "outbreak" NOT a "Pandemic". The dictionary defines a pandemic as "Epidemic over a wide geographic area and affecting a large proportion of the population: pandemic influenza. Widespread; general. from Gk. pandemos "pertaining to all people," from pan- "all" + demos "people".


An example of a true Pandemic is the Influenza Epidemic of 1918, where it has been estimated that there were about 20,000,000 cases of influenza and pneumonia in the United States in 1918-19, with approximately 850,000 deaths. The US population was 103,268,000, which means that almost 1 in 5 people were sick, and 1 in 125 died. Eighty percent of the deaths in 1918 occurred in the last 4 months of the year. Most Influenza varieties have a few fatalities, which are usually the very young, and the very old. There has never been another strain of influenza that killed such a high percentage of people, or that killed so many otherwise healthy young people.

So, how many people are dying from this "Swineflu Pandemic?"

WELL...according to the CDC,each year approximately 56,326 die from "reglar" Influenza and Pneumonia, in the UNITED STATES. So far, IN THE ENTIRE WORLD, 11918 people have died. That's right...

56,326 versus
11,918

NOT A PANDEMIC!


I am not sure where all the hype and excitement is coming from, but I would place a fairly large bet on the old saying "follow the money"...and according to ABC news, "Drug companies have sold $1.5 billion worth of swine flu shots, in addition to the $1 billion for seasonal flu they booked earlier this year. These inoculations are part of a much wider and rapidly growing $20 billion global vaccine market."


Make up your own mind, but do some real research first, and don't just panic because somebody told you you should!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Giving Thanks

I have posted less this month than in any previous month of my blog-life. Part of that is the insane busyness of my schedule. Part is that I have several BIG posts that I am mentally chewing my way through, before I put them into words.

I always find myself pondering how great my life is around this time of year--and not just because we have an official holiday for it, either. I think the gathering in, as well as the colder weather combine to make me thoughtful. I have a pretty great life.

For general comfort on an everyday level, I am better off than any royalty in the history of the world up until about 100 years ago. I have hot water ANY TIME I WANT IT. I have bright, non-flickering light--as much as I want! I do not have to be downwind of the latrines no matter what the weather is, or which direction the wind is blowing! I can be warm in the winter (although for me, that goes directly back to the unlimited hot water issue!).

I can have any food I want, at any time of year--including fresh fruit in the middle of winter, and while it is slighty more expensive, it is nothing like as costly as it could be! I am at an age, where even at the time my grandparents were born was past middle age--now, I am not even close to half of my life expectancy--and I have all of my teeth! I do love dental care that enables me to KEEP the ones I have!

I am surrounded by family and friends that I love. It is cheap, easy and effective to call, write or otherwise communicate with them. It was not all that long ago when you sent a letter by writing their name and town on the outside, and entrusting it to anyone who was traveling in that general direction. Many of my siblings live in other states, sometimes in other countries. In previous generations, that would have meant that I would probably never see them again. I also have blog friends around the world that I may never meet in person, that still bless and enrich my life.

When BigGirl had appendicitis a few years ago, it was a tiny, minor laproscopic surgery, and she was only out of school for a week. No close call with death, no 6 inch scar across her abdomen. LargeBoy's broken arm is a small inconvenience, not a life changing event. SmallDaughter benefits daily from technology and therapy breakthroughs.

We are blessed.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Halloween Costumes, part 2

I got some new pictures today, which I am happy to share! Didn't they turn out cute!


Here is the whole "Mario Gang" Mario, Luigi, Toad, Princess Peach and a Goomba.


Goomba


Princess Peach



Toad

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Pondering

Today conditions conspired to create the perfect day for me to stop procrastinating and clean out the chicken coop. While we have managed to keep them from being horribly stinky or unpleasant (deep cedar chips and diatomaceous earth), it needed cleaned out before winter. Thus I had plenty of time to ponder on a discussion I had once with my very wise mother.

I was about 14 at the time, and many of my friends were doing ANYTHING to appear more "adult". My mom's comment was short, but it has resonated in me through the years. She said, "the real adults are the ones who clean up the crap. Our lives are filled with various forms of crap--we care for babies, and pets and old people, which involves physically cleaning up crap. We also care for the people who produce the emotional crap. The real adult is the person who sees what needs to be done, rolls up their sleeves and finishes the job, to make the world a better place--even when the ones they clean up after don't notice or care. By this definition I know some 12 year olds who are the grownups, and some 55 year olds who aren't."

Now that I am an adult by pretty much any way of figuring, this is more true than ever. It also reminds me of the gentle way she taught me that changing a baby is a privilege--to take care of another person's most intimate needs is a gift, and we, by our attitude can make it a time of wonderful bonding. She taught me that we never confuse the PERSON with the BEHAVIOR/RESULT. Thus, you don't say "Ooh, gross, you stink!" you say, "Ooh gross, let's get this stinky poop off of you". People are not their behaviors. Even when supremely bad behavior is going on (ie, screaming tantrums in a toddler, or alcoholic rages in an adult) the person still has merit and worth.

POSTSCRIPT-- Now I get to go clean up the flour. SmallDaughter just got a 5 lb bag of flour out of the cupboard, stabbed it open with a knife and spread it everywhere. BIG SIGH.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween Costumes, part 1

Here are (finally) a few of our Halloween Costumes (and by "our", I mean that I helped think of, sew, create, etc.!) For those of you who got costumes and haven't sent me pictures yet...(sound of throat clearing) Well, we will just say there are more costumes out there!

And so, for your enjoyment (drumroll, please)...

Halloween 2009!


A Medieval Lady and Her Knight?



Zeus & Athena (with Athena's "Mini-Me"!)



A Goth Doll

Now for those poor souls who haven't had the chance to watch the WONDERFUL movie "My Neighbor Totoro" (Our family prefers the 1994 Fox Version, better dubbing), you won't recognize the next costumes. So, as a reference, HERE is a picture of the 3 Totoros, with their human friends Mei and Satsuki.




Now, here is our version:

The Blue Totoro and The White Totoro


I ran out of time before I solved the problem of getting their cute pointy ears to stand up, so they spent the night explaining that they weren't penguins. Oh well.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Exciting News Day!

I am just adding all of the exciting news in to this one entry--so re-read it, even if you read it yesterday!

Breaking News:

Cutie sister A (mom of the 3 cutest girls in the Mid West) has made the Dean's List and gotten PERFECT ATTENDANCE at her Culinary School!

It is OFFICIAL:

AUNT A PASSED THE BAR EXAM!

They don't release grades or averages, it is just pass/fail, but
we know she kicked butt! Seriously, it is like living with Hermione Granger!

Our BigGirl is BACK! She arrived home yesterday, inches taller, curvier and more grown up than ever! She also cut her hair, in the shortest "do" she's ever had.

When she was in 1st grade, she decided to cut her long hair off to donate, so she got it cut in a "bob". She grew it out again and donated it at the end of 3rd and 5th grade. But each time, it was chin length. This time, it is a short little "Pixie" cut, which is adorable on her.

It feels good to have our family "whole" again!!

Also, I am taking LargeBoy in an hour to get his hard cast on. He still hasn't decided between black and glow in the dark. Since this is his 3rd time breaking the same arm, he has plenty of experience with this process.

Several people have asked if I am upset or angry with him (since it is the third time!), and actually, I'm not. The first time he wrecked his bike, and both of the other two were falling out of trees (not the same tree). I'm glad that he is outside playing active games instead of vegging on the couch, even if broken bones are a natural consequence.

This time, I am also relieved that only broke his arm, when it so easily could have been his head or his neck! (and it really wasn't carelessness--one of the branches was rotten inside--but looked fine on the outside!).

All in all, a red letter day!

Also--big thanks to SAHMinIL, for helping me with the darn computer issues--Look! I made it work! (But I won't tell you how long it took me!)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Halloween-ish

The kiddoodles are out begging for candy from the neighbors tonight. Yes, I know that it is days until Halloween, but the powers that be in our town have declared that Trick or Treating will always be on the Tuesday before Halloween.

Not to be sexist, but this decision was obviously made by a group of men for reasons like "that is the best day for the police force" or something like that. The decision makers were obviously not the parents or school teachers of any of the small, exhausted, wound up, sugar-buzzed kids WHO HAVE SCHOOL THE NEXT MORNING.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Just back from the ER

Nothing makes you grateful for the blessings you take for granted everyday like a trip to the Emergency Room!

LargeBoy fell out of a tree again, and broke his arm again. Third time's the charm, right? He is doing fine, very proud that his pain tolerance is higher than it used to be! I am ready for bed!

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Wow! What a great day!

I had the oportunity to attend a great class today! A one day (9-5) feltmaking class. Now a lot of people wouldn't get excited about that, but I was in heaven!

The drive over was incredibly beautiful. I am blessed to live in a particularly beautiful area, (which has seasons! I have lived in places--i.e. California, which didn't have seasons, and it sucked!)and right now the autumn colors are absolutely stunning.

Not only did I learn a skill I have been wanting for years,with fun creative people and yummy food, I also got a big stash of merino wool top roving in GORGEOUS colors. So much creativity awaits!!!

Plus my sweet hubby brought me a present back from his camping trip, just because he has learned that it makes me happy!

A PERFECT DAY!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Just because I'm paranoid, doesn't mean they aren't out to get me.

My dear friends are all aware of (and mock me for) my strange paranoia: I feel that everyone forgets me as soon as I leave the room.

SO I am completely stunned (and rather horrified) when people remember me (why, why, WHY?).

Yes, I know it isn't rational.

I remember hundreds of people, many of whom I have only met briefly. I like the vast majority of them. I have no reason to assume people would not remember or like me--but there it is.

I have quietly assumed that my blog was being read by maybe 6 people--three of whom are related to me. The comments that have been left have pretty well backed up that assumption. Now I have this cute little map gadget--and whoa! People in places I have never heard of have stopped by, at least for a minute.

This shouldn't surprise me, either. I follow several blogs, from "unmet" friends around the world, that I have stumbled upon, and that I now cherish reading. I hope the new blog friends enjoy what I have to say, or at least get something out of it. I do enjoy this technology that allows friendships that never could have happened otherwise.

If you are a new friend, let me recommend reading the very first post, about who I am, and how it got it's name. It might help.

Also, whether you are a new friend or an old friend--I love comments, and would love it if you said "hi" or let me know when you enjoy something. Positive feedback always makes me happy!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Whoa! Adventure! (albeit minor adventure)

This morning I have been alone in the house--quite, quite glorious!

However, while I was upstairs, I kept hearing little noises--but old houses make noise, so it didn't really bother me. However, after I came downstairs and started working on the computer, I noticed that the birds were being very noisy today. And possibly bonking into the windows again.

Our doves seem to lack all brain cells, and routinely fly into the windows, which are a) curtained and b) COVERED in crayon, paint marker, toothpaste, lotion, etc--(thanks to SmallDaughter, we have very few opaque windows!).

However, when I slowly went into the dining room to see which window was causing all the fuss, I found a bird (sparrow, I think, but a bit large, so maybe something else) IN MY KITCHEN. Poor thing. It was trying desperately to get out, and I opened the door and a window, and (fortunately) it didn't take it long!

I'm not blogging much because I am sewing for halloween. Last week I hooked people up with a gorgeous renaissance purple velvet with white and gold trim gown, outfits for Mario, Luigi, Princess Peach, Toad and a Goomba, and parts of other costumes. This week it continues.

I just love it!


I want to blog about autumn, but I never seem to get around to it. I used to hate fall, but now I think it is my favorite (of course, I have LOTS of favorites--the kids always tease me that every single option is my favorite--except crickets!!!)

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's that time of year again...

The time when I am reminded (forcibly, sometimes!) that "normal" people do not have 8 or 12 wedding dresses hanging around the house--and at least that number of other formal dresses in many styles, sizes and eras. I can't help it--they follow me home.

Other people can't resist dogs, or shoes or cookbooks. I just love costumes, and the more glamorous, the better. If you need a Venitian Ensemble for Carnival, or a Marie Antionette, a Celtic wonder (complete with cloak) or a Steampunk Gothic, I'm your girl. If you need a pair of pants mended--you're on your own.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rebellion

Being a rebel for the sake of rebellion has no intrinsic value. Trust me. Rebelling against rules, propriety and manners is not difficult--most one year old's and every two year old can do it! Rebellion itself is not great or glorious. Rules, propriety, manners and culture exist to make us better individually and as a society, and blind rebellion weakens us individually and as a whole.

However, Rebellion for the sake of changing parts of society that are "broken" is of tremendous value. It is also much more difficult. There will always be people who hold the Andy Warhol's and Jack Kerouac's up as examples, simply because they behaved badly--but with flair. That is not true rebellion of change--it is merely bad behavior and public demands for attention.

The symbol of Gandhi's revolution was--a spinning wheel. The Charkha is a small, compact, portable spinning wheel that Gandhi invented. He understood that there was no point in overthrowing a government if your people don't have a way to support themselves. Spinning cotton was an ideal solution--India's tropical climate is ideal for growing cotton, 1 cotton plant provides enough fiber for 3 dishtowels or 1 small t-shirt (as well as seeds to continue growing more supplies!), and the box charkas are cheap to make (there are even plans available for making them from cardboard!) This is truly revolutionary thinking!

Any moron can destroy what others have built. It takes true genius and leadership to inspire every one around you to build up and improve.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Summer Reading List (at Last!)

What would you do if you were a compulsive reader? Someone who read all the time, to the point that you read the shampoo bottle while you were in the shower and the small print in contracts? What if you read really fast, so you could get through a lot of books in a hurry (and you were very good at ignoring minor things like housework and cooking?)

And, even more to the point, what if you were a compulsive reader who had a great local public library less than one block away from your house, AND you found a booklist compiled by people from all over the world who had similar taste in books and wanted to share their favorites with you?

Yep, you would spend all summer reading. Me, too!

I have mentioned the “Pollyanna Booklist” a couple of times on this blog. Two of my favorite authors (Orson Scott Card and Robin McKinley) each have their own reviews and online recommendations for books, and I have really come to trust them. So, here is the long promised list of “Books I Read This Summer” (Although, this list goes up until last week, so not technically still summer).

They are in the order I read them (pretty much!), and I am going to use a 1-4 star rating system. Even the 1 star books were a pretty good read—none of the books on this list was a waste of time or of space in my brain, it is just that some of them didn’t resonate with me the way others did.

Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway ***
Gerald Morris’ series based on King Arthur ** up to ****
Kate Seredy’s The Good Master ****
“The Miracle of the Bells” by Russell Janney *** (don’t give up on it, it gets better!)
The Spymaster’s Lady by Joanna Bourne * (a little too “bodice ripper for my taste--truly the only one I wouldn't recommend)
Tea with the Black Dragon by R.A. MacAvoy * (strange, but enjoyable)
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner **** I loved this trilogy, very creative!
Mairelon the Magician by Patricia C. Wrede ***
Magician’s Apprentice by Patricia C. Wrede ***
Elantris, Brandon Sanderson **** One of the best fantasies I have ever read!
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett **
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith *
The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope ****
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope **
Diana Wynne Jones’ Chrestomanci books **
Princess Ben by Catherine GIlbert Burdock. **
Georgette Heyer –I love all of hers!
In the Castle of the Flynns by Michael Raleigh **
The Mistborn Trilogy, Brandon Sanderson **** I LOVED this trilogy, TRULY AWESOME!
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld ****

If you haven't been spending time in the YA section of your library, you are missing out on the freshest, most creative enjoyable writing that is out there.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Whew!

What a wild sprint through the weekend! I cleaned house manically on Friday, and it was LOVELY by the time my party rolled around. I had small, but not pathetic attendance. If you are still interested, you can order stuff until this Friday.

On Saturday, we got dolled up and went to a "surpise 40th anniversary party" for Mr. Prism's Aunt & Uncle. It was good to see family we haven't seen for a long time. Lots of exclamations over how tall LargeBoy is getting (and we didn't even have BigGirl here--she has SHOT up this last year, and is amazingly tall and pretty). SmallDaughter and the WonderDog behaved very well--and she ate about 10 plates of potato chips, which her loving brother patiently refilled for her.

When we got home, LargeBoy and I worked on a model of the human body while we listened to General Conference on the internet. It was nice and mellow to listen together.

http://lds.org/conference/languages/0,6353,310-1,00.html" (once again, nothing will link, and you are forced to cut and paste. Sorry.)

In the evening, Mr. Prism went into town to attend the Priesthood Session, and the cookout dinner they had before, and LargeBoy and I did a lot of baking: a batch of bread dough which turned into 2 pizzas and 4 loaves of yummy bread, a pan of really rich butterscotchies, and a lemon jelly roll.

On Sunday morning I made up 2 huge crockpots of stew (one of beef veggie stew, one of corn chowder)(--Thanks for loaning me your crockpot, Miss K!) and got them cooking along. Aunt A and Uncle R, plus their awesome chillun arrived, and we began listening to the Morning Session of Conference. Partway through, my dearest-cousin- in-the-world arrived, with 2 adorable babies in tow (one is her sweet nursey baby, and the other is her sweet niece.) She has come to our part of the world to assist her little sister (my awesome cousin Kit), who is undergoing some medical stuff and needs help chasing her little one (who is 19 months old and FAST!).

It was great to have everybody here, and we all squished into my little computer room to listen. During the break between sessions my dad & co. arrived and he set up a screen and his spiffy computer projector, and we arranged all the couches in the living room (currently 4!) like a theater, and listened to the afternoon session in comfort!


I particularly loved Elder Jeffery R. Holland's bold and forthright testimony of the Book of Mormon, and Brent H. Nielsen's touching talk on missionary work.

Then we all ate and ate and ate, while watching a "slide show" of old family pictures that had been put on a CD from my grandparents old slides. It was great.

I am so blessed.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Shameless Plug!

In case you didn't know--


I am having a Pampered Chef party tomorrow Friday, October 2. Pampered Chef is the only "party business" that I ever do, because I actually love and use their tools.
If you happen to want something, just comment, and I will hook you up!

Monday, September 28, 2009

Q. What is better than spending time with beloved sisters, dear friends, and good food?

A. NOTHING!!!

I am feeling loved, pampered and refreshed by a great long weekend (starting Thursday) spent in the company of people I love.

I loved the General Women's Conference. You can watch it here: http://www.lds.org/broadcast/grsm/0,6220,285-1-41-1741,00.html


I also got an incredible halloween costume!

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Much better now!

Last night, poor SmallDaughter fell asleep around 6:00 (on the living room floor, under a blankie--I had to search all over for her!), and I was asleep by 7:15, so we were able to get a lot of sleep (no seminary this morning, so I slept till 7:00! YAY!). There were a few little interuptions (the phone ringing/answering machine, Mr. Prism coming home from Boy Scout Court of Honor with LargeBoy--and attempting to converse with my comatose form, and him leaving for work in the wee small hours of the morning). Interruptions notwithstanding, I am feeling MUCH BETTER!

So, today I am off to go field-tripping with the Fiber Fanatics (YAY!) and tomorrow, I am leaving all my people home, taking my best girl-friend, and going to see my sisters for a weekend of them spoiling me (one is in culinary school, and the other is in massage school--lucky me!!!)! We will go to the Womens Conference together and I am excited!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Where am I, Exactly?

Several years ago, when SmallDaughter had her first EEG, because we didn't know they would be doing one, they neglected to tell us to keep her from sleeping--so I ended up holding her screaming, fighting WELL RESTED body perfectly still for them, for an hour and a half as they ran the test. It was one of the worst chunks of my life. Looking back, it is pretty much the 7th circle of hell.

Today was merely the 3rd or 4th circle. Yep, I kept her up all night (videos, waffles and stroller rides at 3 am). Yep, we kept her awake in the car (thanks to a loving auntie and lots of times through "The Wheels On The Bus" and "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"). HOWEVER, during the actual test, she still only slept for 1 1/2 hours, and I had to hold her down for the rest(2 1/2 hours). She didn't scream as much, and she did get to watch TV this time (and she is better at holding still), but she was pretty fed up, and kept signing "all done" to me.

We will tackle the superglue remnants in her hair tomorrow.

I am now running on 3 hours of sleep in the last 36 hours--but I still have stuff I have to get done. I will go to bed soon, though. Thankfully it is overcast, which makes it much easier for me to sleep during the day.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Events and Happenings

The first (joyous) event happened in the early morning hours today, when I became an Aunt (again!) to such a cutie-sweetie boy!



He weighed 10 lbs, 4 oz, which happens to be what I weighed at birth also! His older sisters are thrilled to welcome him to their family, and his proud papa N says that he is "healthy and strong. And hungry. And active." How I love new babies!

In my less exciting life (well, this might be exciting, but it isn't fun)SmallDaughter has to go in for additional testing tomorrow morning. They are going to do the "extended video EEG", which means they need her to sleep for at least 4 hours.

To get her to sleep 4 hours without any drugs or "assistance", I was given the task of waking her up at midnight, and not letting her sleep again until she was hooked up for the test. Including the hour and a half car ride there.

Why, oh why do they have to do these tests at 9:00 in the morning instead of say, 8:00 pm (bedtime)? So, if you run into me, and I am babbling and incoherent--at least this time I have a good excuse!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Cooking Adventures

Because BigGirl is currently staying in a land far, far away, I have been doing a lot of cool stuff with LargeBoy. Mostly cooking. This is the boy who, when he was four years old, preferred Food Network to Cartoon Network (YAY!) However, shortly thereafter we got rid of our cable subscription, so his cooking show watching days were curtailed.

However, he recently discovered "Iron Chef" and "Kitchen Nightmares". They have captivated him, and inspired him to try all kinds of yummy stuff. We made French Onion Soup the other day--one of my very favorite restaraunt foods that I have been afraid to try. Silly me! It is SO easy, and even better than in a restaraunt--and healthy!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

A Laugh

I have had a lot of busy stuff going on in my life. Not bad--just busy (for example, the boys & I picked about 10 gallons of grapes and made homemade grape juice this week--SOOOOOO much better than store bought! But lots of work.)

Anyway, I just wanted to post 3 things that made me laugh this week:

1) SmallDaughter has started to tell knock-knock jokes. It is pretty funny to watch, since she can't actually say the words, but she knows what to do--so she knocks on something, you say "who's there?", she says "OOH", you say "OOH-who?" and then she laughs hysterically! Then, she does it again. It is very cute.

2) One of my favorite blogs posted one that just made me laugh, so I am going to quote him:
"I'm late again, but I just had few points that I thought were kind of interesting, that I wanted the world to be aware of.


1. A bad simile is like a unicorn on a motorcycle fighting a grizzly bear in a hang glider: It just doesn't make sense... No matter how good it sounds.

2. Sticks and stones may break my bones, but when you combine them, you can make a catapult. I think that further experimentation may be required.

3. Often, people make me do things I don't really want to do at all. When I ask them why, they tell me it's because I need to learn how to these things for later in life. I respond that I don't mind paying other people to do things I hate, and they tell me to get to work. From this, I deduce the following:
People like to watch me doing things I hate."

Thanks, genghiz cohen over at "I'm not Longwinded, You're Short".

3) (and you know I'm a geek when I tell you this made me laugh my pants off!) I found this little jewel:


Lines from Star Wars that can be improved if you substitute the word "Pants" for key words...


We've got to be able to get some reading on those pants, up or down.

The pants may not look like much, kid, but they've got it where it counts.

I find your lack of pants disturbing.

These pants contain the ultimate power in the Universe. I suggest we use it.

Han will have those pants down. We've got to give him more time!

General Veers, prepare your pants for a ground assault.

I used to bulls-eye womp-rats in my pants back home.

TK-421... Why aren't you in your pants?

Lock the door. And hope they don't have pants.

You are unwise to lower your pants.

She must have hidden the plans in her pants. Send a detachment down to retrieve them. See to it personally Commander.

Governor Tarkin. I recognized your foul pants when I was brought on board.

You look strong enough to pull the pants of a Gundark.

Luke... Help me remove these pants.

Great, Chewie, great. Always thinking with your pants.

That blast came from those pants. That thing's operational!

A tremor in the pants. The last time I felt this was in the presence of my old master.

Don't worry. Chewie and I have gotten into a lot of pants more heavily guarded than this.

Maybe you'd like it back in your pants, your highness.

Your pants betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially one... Your sister!

Jabba doesn't have time for smugglers who drop their pants at the first sign of an Imperial Cruiser.

Short pants is better than no pants at all.


Yes, pathetic I know...but they all made me laugh!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

September 11th

My mind was so full of many thoughts and ponderings on Sept. 11th, that I never got around to posting any of them. Thoughts about the wonder of life and birth (and birthdays!), comments I read about people who feel the whole thing was a government conspiracy, thoughts on terrrorism in general, thoughts on grieving for those we love and also for those we don't know.

But I didn't. Sorry.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Well, that was a nice idea (sigh)

So today, in a mad fit of organization (they come upon me sometimes, like "fits" in old novels) I was cleaning out files on my computer. You know the to-do lists from last year, flight information, and stuff like that, and I found this little jewel:
(Which I will now transcribe in its entirety.)

Blog plan

“A Prismatic Life”

Explanation
Homeschool
Home birth
Parenting
Weddings
Organization
Life Skills
Makeup artist
Fiber arts
Parties
Costuming
Gratitude
Life Answers
Special Needs Parenting



WELL...

Boy isn't THAT optimistic! Yes, those are all things I feel strongly about or have skills in/ideas about. Out of 14 items I planned to blog about, my blog only seems to contain 4 of them. FOUR! And, while I was counting, I went to my "contents" list, to check how many labels I have--158! WHOA!! And none of those seem to be "costumes", "makeup artist" etc...

Well, at least I know now what the heck I thought I was doing!


However, if you are looking for the "explanation"--you can find that as the first post (March 2009). It explains where the name came from, at the very least.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

So, what about their socialization?

“Whew, I’m so glad school is back in session so my kids are out of my hair, they were driving me crazy!”

This is such a common response to the first week of school in our culture that most of us don’t even think about it. How sad for our society that the forced separation of children from their parents is greeted by those parents with joy and relief—“whew, someone else is taking over my parental responsibilities, indoctrinating their values and beliefs in my children and teaching them that the only true success is looking, acting and behaving just like everyone else—only just a little bit better.”

Where do you think our society's preocupation with the idea that you have to be thinner than all the other women, prettier or stronger than the neighbors, have “better” clothes, house, tools, cars, stuff…comes from?

And in our society, this is accepted as “normal”—no one even questions that sending your tiny little child off to spend the majority of their life with strangers is the “right” way to parent. Every homeschooler is asked at some point (and new homeschoolers are asked ALL THE TIME), “what about their socialization?” as if you are going to keep them in an isolation chamber and never allow them any social interactions at all!

I find it very interesting that I have NEVER—in all the time I was homeschooled, my siblings were homeschooled or my children have been homeschooled, have I been asked “but what about their academics?” because at some level everyone knows Public School is about social interaction, NOT about education. Interestingly, while I do know a few socially maladjusted homeschoolers, the MOST socially incompetent people I know were in public school with me.

Why should my beautiful, kind, creative, intuitive, intelligent children be placed in a pressure cooker of artificial standards, peer pressure and negative influences—not to mention bullying (and yes, bullying is done by teachers as well as by other students)? I firmly believe that the ONLY people who were not bullied in junior high were the ones doing the bullying, and that probably most of them were picked on by someone “higher” on “the social ladder”.

Why is this normal in our society? Because as humans we carry on the script that we were raised with. That is why terrible cultural traditions like female infanticide, Chinese foot binding, female genital mutilation and multi-generational child abuse are carried on from one generation to the next.

I am always amazed that the same people who insist that the best thing I could do for my children is to put them back into the artificial world of public schooling so they can be “socialized”, go on in the next sentence to tell me how hellish their school experiences were! I suppose that subconsciously they feel that they are rejected if their suffering is avoided---“it was good enough for me, it should be good enough for you!”

However, I don’t want my children to have something because it was “good enough”—I want my children to have infinitely more! I rejoice in watching them interact well with people of all ages (not just their "peers"), of different cultures and beliefs, and believe that true socialization comes from interacting as a functioning, contributing member of society.

My mom always said, "If God had wanted children socialized in groups of 30, we would have litters. Instead we have extended families and communities, so that is what I want my children to be "socialized" with."

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chicken Update

The cute fluffy little chicks have turned into stately chicken matrons, who spend their days commenting on everything around them, and behaving in the most chickenly way possible.



They are much prettier than the photos show, because their feathers are actually iridescent, with mainly green, but some purple highlights in the sun.



They have started to lay (5 eggs so far!)--cute little pullet eggs, about 2/3 the size of a regular egg, but very lovely.



Today one of them even layed her egg in the nesting box!



I tried to get one of the "ladies" in the nesting box, but she hopped off so fast my picture turned out fuzzy! (darned digital slowness!)

Monday, August 31, 2009

It could be worse...


To those of you
who have uttered disparaging things about my house--specifically about the 50's pink and black tile in the bathroom (or worse, where those tiles fell off!) with it's clashing pink paint...



OR who have criticized the oatmeal colored 50's wallpaper...




OR the 80's green plaid wallpaper that is surrounded by a slightly clashing green paint trim...



OR made comments about the algae colored paint in the dining room (who thought matching the carpet would be a good idea?)???



OR the fact that every single one of the afformentioned decorative elements has been written on by SmallDaughter, well, all I have to say to YOU is..it could be worse....



You doubt me, but I have proof.

SCROLL DOWN...
















these images courtesy LovelyListings.com

See, I was right!

The WonderDog!

SmallDaughter just finished her first week of the school year. She has attended a self contained Multiple Disability class for the past two years, and the WonderDog has attended with her. I have been very pleased with her teacher and the classroom assistants. They genuinely love her, and have her long-term best interests at heart, and have helped her achieve many physical and academic goals.

The week before school began, SmallDaughter's teacher called me. For the first time since SmallDaughter started in this class, they were getting new students, and one of them was scared of dogs. Teacher wanted to know if there was a 4 Paws protocol for introducing a child who was scared of dogs to a service dog.

I called Jeremy the head trainer at 4 Paws for Ability, and he gave me good advice, which I passed on to Teacher. On Saturday, she called me to report on how the week had gone (and having the teacher call me still makes me nervous that there are major problems!). She said “I want to thank you for letting us have the WonderDog. One of our new students has lots of emotional issues, and from the information in his file, we expected him to have between 3 and 6 major meltdowns every day, lasting up to half an hour each. This is the student who is scared of dogs, so I was really nervous for the first day of class.

SmallDaughter and WonderDog came into class and took their places (SD at the table, WD on his “place”) and the new student looked pretty alarmed, but then he went over and inspected every inch of WD—including opening his mouth to look inside it! I was a bit concerned, but WD was totally mellow. Whenever the student was getting ready to melt down, he told me ‘I pet dog’, and went over to WD and petted him three times—one, two, three, then said ‘I better now’, and returned to his place. We have not had one meltdown, and I know it is because of having the WonderDog in our classroom.”

“Also when we had a Police Officer come in to visit our classroom, he asked who had the Service Dog, BOTH of our new students claimed WD was theirs! When we walk down the hall, SD holds onto her handles and the boy who used to be afraid of dogs walks on WD's other side, holding onto his harness, while the other new student holds onto WonderDog's tail like a rudder! WD just loves all the attention!”

SD has settled into her classroom routine perfectly, and the only time she has had any issues at all, was when Teacher corrected one of the new students, and SD thought she had done something wrong!

Also, the new Superintendent stopped by their classroom, and WD behaved so perfectly that he totally won him over! Yay for 4 Paws and for the WonderDog who has made our lives SO MUCH BETTER!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Time moves on

This week has been one of "chilling" and recovering after the intense stress of the last few weeks. I have been doing a lot of canning (for me). I am not totally inexperienced with canning, but I have never done very much. This year I have done a LOT. You can tell canners, because during canning season, their main topic of conversation is how many bottles of ________ they put up. Realizing for yourself how much work goes into each bottle--be it cup, pint or quart, you can see why.

That said, here is my list:
6 quarts of spaghetti sauce. HOWEVER-- the big brag is that it came almost totally from my very own garden! Not only the tomatoes, but also the oregano, basil, parsley, bell peppers & onions.
3 quarts and 14 pints of pickled beets (another 3 quarts broke during processing)
7 quarts of potatoes
AND
10 QUARTS of sliced, pickled jalepeno peppers.

If you know Mr. Prism (My Favorite Gentleman), you will know why I didn't bother with pint jars. 10 quarts is about a 2 month supply. However, all of the peppers came out of my garden, too.

BTW, it is painful to slice the tip of your finger off with the veggie slicer--but it is much @#$%^&* worse when it is in the middle of the jalepeno slicing! Don't ask me how I know this.

Wednesday was SmallDaughter's first day back at school. Preparing her for school is a different experience than when the other 2 were in public school. There is no anticipation or dread, because she doesn't understand the concept of time and things that will happen in the future. There is no big rush about back to school shopping because--1) she doesn't care about clothes at all, and 2) she still fits into all of her clothes from last year. Very mellow preparations. She does love her teacher, her "bus ladies" and her friends at school.

A "return to school" is a much less emotional event for unschoolers, too. All around me I am surrounded by hype about the excitement of packing your children away into the care of strangers and the dubious "socialization" of various more or less hostile peers. Hmmm.

We are settling into school by: canning, snuggling, reading some really excellent new book series (more on those soon), bike riding, tending the chickens, achieving a new level of championship on Pokemon (which means much more to LargeBoy than to me, but I was excited that I was with him when he achieved something that he really worked to do, and that he was excited to share with me), cooking (if I told you how excellent our last batch of brownies were, you would cry with jealousy--trust me!).

He is also coming up with lots of ideas for cool games of the future, and since his uncle is a talented programmer, who has designed several awesome i-phone game apps, I think it is very probable that at least some of his ideas will come to fruition.

BigGirl is deeply excited by the portability of her schooling--and by that I mean she is now clear across the country, assisting with 2 sweet babies to help out a Meggan in need. She has been anxiously awaiting the day when she would be big enough to go "stay", and it has finally arrived!

One of the sad things much of our culture has lost in it's quest to abolish the traditional extended family is the "stay". Growing up in my very large family, when a baby was born, surgery, illness, stress, moves or grief occured, help came, often in the form of a middle-teenage assistant.

At first they were my mom's younger siblings (My mom had done it for her older siblings). We loved having the aunts come to stay--besides being a very real help, they provided energy, excitement and a level of glamour that a "mere mom" could never hope to have!

(Just think of the glamour of being served
that most excellent breakfast in bed:
oranges--sliced glamourously in half, and cinnamon toast.
Well, maybe you had to be there, but it was glamorous as heck to me!)

I got older, and eventually it was my turn (and then my younger siblings and cousins turn) to go assist those same aunts, now that they had married and had little children. Then I recieved the assistance.
And so it goes.
It is valuable training in very real household skills and parenting, it provides true self esteem (which has nothing to do with praise, letter grades or programs, and everything to do with accomplishing or creating something that is really useful or that needs to be done.)

PLUS--She is now one of the "cool older cousins"--and that is just awesome!

Deep thought for the day:

Time flies like the wind--
Fruit flies like bananas.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Poor Thing

Meggan broke her arm last night. Right arm. The humerus bone, just below the shoulder. Sigh. Poor thing (I know, I did it twice--same arm, same place!) She could really use your prayers.

A little bragging

The kidlets did very well at the fair. In showmanship (which judges their poise and presentation --while holding and showing a chicken!) BigGirl and LargeBoy each came in 3rd, and LargeCousin came in 4th. I am so proud of them! Also, BigGirl's chicken layed our first egg!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

brief update

J & A's wedding came off very smoothly. It was lovely, well attended, and fun. They were really laid-back about the whole process, which makes everything better, and they are now off on a honeymoon. Our "not-technically-family reunion" had lower numbers than in past years, but was good fun, nevertheless.

I am so tired (from exertion--decorating/undecorating the wedding, the reunion,attending the fair,etc., stress and getting up at 3:00 am this morning to take MFG to where he met his car-pool ride for work) that I am doing very slow, but reasonably steady trudging along on getting the house, vehicles and routines back into some semblance of order. Today is the day that LargeCousin's mom gets to take the largekins to the fair while I take SmallDaughter to therapy. They had their showmanship contest today. I think they will do fairly well, considering this is their first year.

However, the heat has been brutal this year, so we love any clouds that happen to pass over the fairgrounds. Since Sunday, 4 pigs, 8 chickens and a steer have died from heat related problems. Thankfully, none of ours. It seems to me that the laying hens and dual purpose (meat & egg) birds are much hardier than the "just for meat" birds--which are really suffering. They are so big they can't move around much, and just look miserable.

My largekins had "barn duty" yesterday afternoon (every exibitor has to sign up to help clean the barn). They did a good job, but they really enjoyed getting to check for eggs. Our hens still aren't laying, but they could start anytime.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Waffles

SmallDaughter believes firmly in "food jags"--for days or weeks or months at a time (or years in the case of eggs), she WANTS one particular food--all day, for every meal. Then suddenly, (with no warning whatsoever) she DOESN'T WANT THAT!

Her new jag is actually pretty pleasant--waffles. For every meal. With crying, screaming on the floor tantrums if I try to suggest something else--like eggs or peaches (she really does love both of those things--but not as much as waffles right now!). Fortunately, it is pretty easy to make up a whole day's worth of waffle batter to have in the fridge. Also, I am not opposed to the occasional waffle myself--and at least this jag doesn't gross me out, like some others we could mention!

On the plus side---if you were a non-verbal person, and you wanted to express your EXTREME delight and pleasure in the parental figure who figured out what you want, and just got down the waffle iron (from it's new storage place on top of the fridge, which is the only place she can't reach it, get it out and plug it in as a hint to me!) how would you do it?
SmallDaughter has figured it out in a most charming and delightful manner--she simply grabs your arm and while grinning happily, kisses your elbow repeatedly, to show her approval! It is actually much cuter than it sounds--and you KNOW she is happy with you!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Update on the week

I got to hold 3 cutie babies this week--sweet! We had a very fun bridal shower, but that means I will be super busy this next week, decorating the wedding. It should be great, I will attempt to post pix.

Next week we have the county fair, where (for the first time) my
4-H'ers will have livestock (i.e. chickens), so instead of cooking the food/making the project, dropping it off and then coming back to see what kind of ribbon you got (blue for my kids, of course!), we have to be there with the chickens, every day. It will be a very different experience. Also, they are due to begin laying any day now. (the chickens, not the children.)

Mr. Prism, My Favorite Gentleman, is off being chivalrous (with my dad), helping a very sweet and quiet divorced older lady move to her new home--2 hours away. He got this job because he has a cargo van. And because he is super nice. I am really happy for Sue who found a fabulous new job (not so easy in this economy), a nice apartment with a nice room-mate and had all of the pieces fall perfectly into place for her. But my guys won't be back until late.

Several people are on the prayer list--Miss Peggy L, who is in really bad shape (physically)--and the doctors don't know what is going on. The "good" news is that the tests for MS, Lupus, etc. came back negative. The bad news is, "what the @#$% is going on?".
Andy P. had a bad fall, I don't know how serious. Sue B. had a heart-attack and the blood thinners caused her previously unsuspected ulcer to have a bleed-out. Natalie W. had rotator cuff surgery (her second)--which I have heard is the most painful of all surgeries. Melanie A. is still having tons of health issues. Maryann B. is still recovering from her heart surgery.

And, in the midst of all this pain and angst, life goes on--babies are born, weddings are decorated, people do kind things for each other (many of them are for or by the same people I just mentioned!) The joy is there if you can see it.

I have a visiting sister (Miss V)for a few days, which is always fun. I am also experimenting with getting out of my comfort zone and cooking with herbs. My sisters would be so proud--I am using basil. (ok, it was only in my spaghetti sauce, but it's a start, right?) This year my (long planned, but even longer procrastinated) herb garden didn't so much grow as EXPLODE. (Need chamomile, anyone?)

I did make a really yummy chicken soup--and the herbs made it crazy good. Also, sitting out on the porch near the herb bed, with the scent of the mint combining with the dill is surprisingly fabulous.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

The most precious gift

I just talked to someone that I dearly love, that I have missed, lost and misplaced in my life for several years. My heart is too excited to sleep, and I am overflowing with love.

Last night I got to go and snuggle a sweet brand new baby boy. (Yep, the one from the previous post, who decided not to wait any longer!) His new parents are doing great with him, and I am confident that they will be wonderful parents.

I have gotten news of several expected new babies. How precious each one is. No matter how many babies come into my life, each one is a miracle.

Now, stop procrastinating, get off the computer, and go call someone who is precious to you, and tell them how much they mean in your life! Don't wait--procrastination only robs us of wonderful memories and good deeds that we could be doing.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mothering 101

I had a lovely visit from a sweet young mother-to-be yesterday. She wanted and needed more information on breastfeeding, and I have MORE INFORMATION! She also got (as a free bonus!) information on labor, childrearing and mothering, since those are my passions. I really feel our society has lost a lot of traditional wisdom on how to be a truly good mother. Some of it is how you interact with the child, but that is only one portion, actually.

So, that being said, here is the first of my "lists of wisdom":

Wisdom for having a baby:

1. Your body was designed for this. RELAX and let it do it's job without interfering too much.

2. You can stop worrying about whether you can/will provide enough milk for your baby. You are a mammal. So is your baby. WOW--SIMPLE! That means, your body is designed to make the 1 PERFECT food for YOUR baby. Since it would be unwise to feed tiger milk to baby dolphins or gorilla milk to baby kangaroos (as those species are completely different, and have totally different growth needs), what baby humans need is human milk, perfectly customized for their own needs, by their own mommy.

3.The baby will automatically set it's breathing, heartbeat and temperature to match the person who is holding it, so bare chest to bare chest contact is VERY important to help your baby stabilize (and a great thing for daddy to do for baby while they clean mom up). It is important to continue skin to skin contact for the first several weeks.

4. The baby does recognize the voices of the people it heard in utero, and will prefer those people.

5. Babies need a lot LESS stuff than the stores would have you believe. Millions of babies have turned out fine without a crib, nursery or diaper genie. Babies prefer to sleep with their parents (or very nearby if you have to). After spending the last nine months listening to the sound of their parents breathing, heartbeat and talking why would they want to be locked away in a dark room by themself? They need to spend more time OUT of the car seat than IN it--a baby on a clean blanket on the floor is learning about spacial relationships and preparing to crawl (and it won't need a helmet to reshape it's soft little skull that has flattened from too much time in it's car seat!)

6. A baby sling or (even better a baby wrap) will help you have a happier, calmer baby, and a happier, more productive mom.

7. Babies can (and do) smile very soon after birth. Studies have shown that if the parents respond the baby will continue to smile, but if smiles are ignored, the baby will stop smiling until they are about 3 months old. (and honestly, when was the last time gas bubbles made you smile? Honestly, Gas Bubbles?)

8. All 5 senses are firmly in place by 17 weeks in utero. That means, when the baby is still the size of a billiard ball, it can feel pain and tickling, prefers sweet tastes to salty or bitter, and can hear the sounds of it's world--parents voices, mom's heartbeat and digestive system (which is a LOT louder than you would think!) and other sounds.

9. No cute little brightly colored or black and white toys are as exciting for your baby as your face. The more you play with and interact with your baby, the better you will get at understanding them, and the smarter your baby will be. Talk about a win-win situation!

10. You are wiser than you think. It will only take a few days for you to become the world's leading expert on your baby. Trust your heart. But find a wise mother (whose children you like, and are turning out well!) as a mentor.

The best book on raising a wise, happy child is "The Mothers Almanac" by Marguerite Kelly and Elia Parsons. There is a great companion book, also, "The Fathers Almanac" by S. Adams Sullivan. Your personal library should have both--and you should read them.

The next best book is "The One-Minute Mother" by Spencer Johnson.

And your "go-to" book should be by William and Martha Sears (they have GREAT books on attachment parenting, breastfeeding, discipline and more!) He is a doctor, and together they have 8 children (which makes him much wiser than the doctor part!)

Monday, July 27, 2009

Just Life

BigGirl has gone to stay with her BFF--a cheesy term, but it does fit these two, who have been Best Friends since Kindergarten, with no "breakups". They have, besides all of the other things they share in common, very kind hearts and a firm belief in a Loving God and the importance of modesty. They are the only two girls from their 5th grade class who weren't "going" with a boy.

However, BFF SweetGirl's family moved from just across town (which, in a town this size is maybe 1 mile), to a neighboring state. So, the moms met in the middle and BigGirl is off for an ecstatic time with her SweetGirl. LargeCousin has gone to be an "auntie" with the little cousins in another neighboring state (I do love these little Eastern states, where in 2 hours you are in another state--not just another county!) So, poor lonely LargeBoy has had to go for a sleep-over at HIS BFF's house. So it is just SmallDaughter, the WonderDog, and Me.

The house smells lovely because I am boiling up some chicken stock (no, not anyone we knew!--just some I had thawed that needed using). It is Monday, so it is Taco Night. Monday always is. Tacos are MFG's favorite, and that means one less menu to THINK of, so that is the way it is. I am doing many small, thankless jobs today--phone calls, paying bills, laundry, that keep the home running. I am grateful for the ease I have to do them--I do love modern conveniences (mostly!). I love having my washer-slave down in the basement, slaving away to make the nasty dirty clothes all fresh and clean with minimal effort on my part!

Also, the BIG NEWS! Tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday, Aunt A is taking THE BAR EXAM! Once again, she thinks she will bomb, and we all know she will kick butt. It is seriously like being friends with Hermione Granger.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Easy come...

We have now passed the beginning of the end (chicken-wise). The plan has always been to raise chickens for eggs and meat. If we had a rooster in our flock his destiny was always the stew pot. Once I finally accepted that the one with the unusually large comb and tail feathers was actually a rooster, we all knew where he (Pepto Bismo--no that isn't a typo, that is his name)was headed. However, that did not prepare me for the eventuality of having him injure his leg and the need to find a butcher quick!

The upside of living in the middle of Amish country is that you can find people with diverse "back to the land/self sufficient" skills. The problem is that they don't advertise. So, I spent 30 or 40 minutes driving around to various farmhouses--"do you butcher chickens?" "No, but I think if you go to the house by the railroad tracks, they do...or they will know who does."

I did finally track down the people who do, and they were very nice. The rooster is now in the freezer. The kids were much more philosophical about it than I was. Even LargeGirl, the softest hearted animal lover you could ever know, took it much better than I thought possible.

On the other side, the "girls" are getting very big, and we just got our new waterers, which I am really excited about! Cleaning out the waterers is just a gross job--since chickens are notoriously unfussy about where they perch and/or poop. The new waterers work rather like a hamster waterer, where they peck the "nipple" and it gives up a drink of cool CLEAN water. Yay!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

The Perfect Rain

The promised rain not only arrived, but arrived perfectly. We have gotten quite a bit over the last 24 hours, but it has come down softly and gently, with plenty of time to be absorbed into the thirsty earth. Not torrents that come and go quickly without leaving anything useful behind. I could think deep philosophical thoughts about people in our lives and the useful analogy of the rain--but I have to go wash my sheets and sort out my pantry (which has achieved a state of such advanced higgledy-piggledy that the word entropy comes to mind. again. sigh.)

We did have a bit of excitement here this morning. MFG went to open up the window in LargeBoy's room, and found that it had a pretty messy bird's nest built in it. Since it appeared empty he went ahead and opened the window. Which caused the little sparrow in the nest to come flying into the house. Where we couldn't find it. It was finally located (after much searching) hiding on the floor in the corner by SmallDaughters dresser. It was gently relocated to the nest, where it flew outside. The nest will be relocated to the crabapple tree out the window.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Summer

It smells like summer rain this morning. That is good--the garden could really use it, and so could the lawn*. The chickens are surprisingly silky and soft, quite lovely to stroke--although our chickens are where the term "chicken" got it's negative connotation. They freak out and panic every time you get near ("AAAGGGHH! It's the food! Panic! PANIC!!!!"). Which I don't mind much--especially since the opposite of that behavior is mean attack chickens. I have been around MAC's before, and this is WAY better.

I got the second planting of my garden in (finally!). I am now at the stage where I mostly just ignore it, and let it grow. I am harvesting cucumbers fairly regularly, and I think my first crop onions are "done". I have pumpkins and watermelons setting, and the first (early) tomatoes are nice little green cuties. I can't wait until the big ones are ready to be turned into fried green tomatoes. Three of the surprises of being a grownup have been being introduced to (and falling in love with!) 1) Fried Green Tomatoes 2) Steamed Lemon Squash 3) Fried Cabbage. They each have a knack to them, and they are all UNSPEAKABLY DELICIOUS. I still don't care for lots of veggies, but I am getting better.

Our poor hammock finally gave up the ghost, so we are reduced to sitting around in chairs outside to read. Not a good substitute for laying in the hammock with a good book. Nothing really is. We have found some REALLY good books this summer, too. I will post more about them soon.

I am trying to figure out a way to get a tree house built this summer. The kids are the PERFECT age, and it is just something they NEED. I can't do heights (yeah, stupid, I know--I can't even do "small heights" like 3 steps up a ladder! It is ridiculous! ---But then, most of my phobias are!), so I must find someone else whom I can beg or whine or guilt into it. Hmm, I must think.

*I think lawns are fairly immoral--especially in dry areas. Precious resources like water have much better uses. If I lived someplace where there wasn't enough rain to keep it green naturally, I would have to rip it out and replace it with something native that didn't require so much water! I won't even go into the lecture on how much gas we use to cut our grass--super wasteful! (I am looking at goats for next year, maybe). You REALLY don't want to hear me go off about golf courses in Las Vegas and California!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

My life is pretty close to perfect

Recently I had the chance to stay at the home of a friend-of-a-friend. Her home was beautiful. It was a fairly new house--built in the last 5 or 10 years, I would say. It had a lovely stone fireplace, tasteful wall decor, immaculate carpets (think beige--LOTS of beige) lovely furniture suites upstairs and down. It was also sparklingly clean. Like, even with 4 children who are alternately there (due to custody issues) and 4 dogs it was sparkling.

It would be almost impossible not to contrast it with my house.

My house was built over 100 years ago. It is a comfortable late Victorian (which means it doesn't have any gingerbread trim, but it does have a great porch and many funky roof angles and walls that stick out in funny places). It is in DIRE need of a new coat of paint on the outside (but first we have to fix all the places where the racoons or the wisteria ripped off bits of the siding).

It is not in a suburban neighborhood full of it's clone. We have one neighbor whose house is our home's "sister", but all of the other houses are in MANY random styles. There is not a lot of "taupe" or "beige" in our neighborhood. There are a lot of mature trees and amazing flower gardens.

Our furniture is that classic style "early thrift store". Not one piece matches another. EVERY single wall (and every other surface for that matter) has been written on by SmallDaughter. I refuse to repaint while she is still in the active picasso phase. I also refuse to get new carpet while she still dumps stuff. So our whole house has strange 1950's era avacado green and algae colored wool carpet--that ALWAYS comes clean, no matter what she has dumped on it (bubble bath, hershey's syrup, yellow mustard...)

It is not imaculate. Even when I clean and clean, I still can't get it to "immaculate". It is not filthy, but it is definitely lived in, and the fact that I personally can overlook something in the middle of the floor and step over it for MONTHS does nothing to help that.

With all that said, our house is full of life and laughter. Spills and messes are not crises, just something to clean up. Everyone is free to try creative endeavors, because we are not thwarted by the fear of messing up the perfection. All of the neighbor kids cook in my kitchen. My yard gets played in daily. My porch is never boring!

My funny looking raised gardens out back are thriving. The chickens behind the barn are fat, healthy and contented. I like them a lot more than I ever imagined that I would. My children are kind, funny, creative and polite. What more could I want?

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Busy Summer

I have been very busy--which means I have been alternately chauffering all of my short people to all of the many and varied places they have to go (I would like to mention here, that even SmallDaughter has a more exciting social life than I do--Physical Therapy--[which has a POOL!], Occupational Therapy, and Theraputic Riding) and reading A LOT.

The big kids just went to the area level (22 counties) for their
4-H "Health & Safety Speaking Contest" Skit. They were very good, and I am really proud of them. They did a funny skit on Car Safety--so we have had a lot (more than usual) of backseat driving!

MFG has been working out of town, which always throws my groove off. I have remembered to feed everybody (mostly), but the food gets WAY more casual. Also, I can't go to bed when he isn't home--a big problem for the chronic insomniac!

I have thought of a lot of blog entries, but always when I am driving, and far away from my computer. When I get near the computer I have forgotten them, and I am too tired. I have been sleeping even worse than usual lately. Sigh.

LargeBoy is SO happy his best-friend-in-the world has finally come back from Texas. The yard is full of sticks again (battles have been renewed) and yesterday they got in trouble for making a zip-line off of the TV antenna tower to the crabapple tree (they assured me they always dropped off before they face planted into the tree.) I still stopped them.

My garden is flourishing. The tomatoes are as tall as I am. The cucumber is producing about 3 a day--perfect. The chickens are big and busy sounding. I will post pictures of their new run soon.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Busy Girl!

I wanted to say thanks to the people who worried about me because of my last blog. It is now daytime, I have had some sleep, and I am feeling much better, thanks! I am currently as busy as a marshmallow vendor while Rome was burning, but things are looking up, emotional-ness-wise.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Sigh

My heart hurts and I can't sleep. I've inadvertently hurt someone that I was trying to help, and I feel upset, confused and,to some extent betrayed. I put in a great deal of work, effort and planning, and due to some bad communication (partly, but not entirely my fault), did not fulfill expectations and caused disapointment and sorrow. -Sigh- I am often tripped up by my own limitations and weaknesses.

I wish I were better at this whole life thing. It is 3:30 am, and I woke up with the blues. I trust I will feel better tomorrow (today), after I have to get busy with all the business life holds.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Summer of Rejoicing!

I am rejoicing at the birth of a new life! A sweet baby boy, who came early, but just because he didn't need to "bake" as long! He was ready, and came in a peaceful, gentle birth, surrounded by love and familiar voices. Each baby comes with such utter, incredible potential. I love it when parents choose begin to put their children's needs before their own, long before the baby is even born. Our world is filled with such heartbreaking selfishness, that I love every act of love that shines against it.

I will have other babies to rejoice over this summer--but baby Jackson James is the first!

I am rejoicing at my nephew, who was baptised a few weeks ago. He is a wonderful, sweet boy, and the only sadness in my relationship with him is that we live so far apart! I am very proud of him--he has always had a special place in my heart, and that spot just keeps getting bigger as he grows!

I rejoice that I am surrounded by lives that are expanding. This summer I have 4 couples that I love getting married--and I can whole-heartedly support all of them! Even better! I hate to feel like they are making a huge mistake, and of course, there is nothing I can do about it. It is MUCH better to watch my younger friends make such wise decisions in their lives--it brings so much joy--not only to them, but to a huge circle of people who are affected by them.

I rejoice in watching the way the Lord puts the people we need into our lives. Several people that I love are going through deep sorrow, deep pain and hard trials. It is very hard to see the suffering--both physical and emotional of people that I love.

Some of the trials are physical--mortal bodies causing pain, wearing out, or needing major surgery. Some of the trials are the pain of death--of losing someone that they couldn't imagine living without.

Some of the trials are the most painful kinds--not brought on by their own sin or bad choice, but by the rebellion, selfishness and sin of those they love the most--a spouse, a child, one of their "dear beloved".

In the valleys of sorrow in my own life, I have found the sweetest blessings have come to me in the very middle of my deepest trials. Those miracles that happened at the very instant when I needed them most, have deepened my appreciation of, my knowledge of, and my love for the Savior and His atonement as a true force and cause of miracles in my life. I am praying that those miracles, those Moments of Grace will also bless the ones I love. There isn't much else I can do.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Summer Camp

We have begun our annual summer camp. While the big kids do have various "away" camps, one of the high points of summer is our camp that we have at home. We vote on weekly themes, which have included "Harry Potter", "Ancient Egypt", "Dragons" and "Movies". Each of the kids gets to be a counselor for 2 weeks. We plan menus, activities, crafts and movies that fit the themes. It sounds like more work than it actually is--and it keeps all of us (me included!) from turning into lumps of boredom! We have had a great time with it, and my children's creativity continually stuns me!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Good Friends

We just had our meeting of our Fiber Friends Group. What a delightful bunch of ladies! The talk never ends, and the hands stay busy with more projects than one person can imagine.

I love the camaraderie , the knowledge that we are part of something so much bigger and more loving than we could be on our own. We have a new member, since L just moved her mom up here from Florida. She fits right in to our group and has great stories to add to the mix.

Even though skills-wise I feel like a kindergartener plopped down in a graduate school, I love the mental boost it gives me. I feel creative, renewed and invigorated every time we get together.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Solitude is ending

As gradually as it began (ie. with two people and a WHOLE LOT OF STUFF being transported), my little period of solitude is ending. I picked up the big girls from camp yesterday--and following years of tradition, they immediately took a nap!

I did manage to eat fairly well, and I made sure to leave the house at least once a day (It is not difficult for me to have several days at a time where I do not leave the house when I am alone).

I am very ready for my guys to get back. It has been very peaceful without them, but I am missing them, and I am glad they are coming home today.

The house is mostly back in order, LOTS of good projects have been accomplished, many blogs and MANY books have been read.

What a nice beginning to the summer.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

I dream of...blogging?

Yes, it's true. Last night, I dreamed long and repeatedly about blogging...specifically how much my cousin Joe reminds me of Captain Carrot in the DiscWorld books by Terry Pratchett(which, if you haven't read them, PUT THIS BLOG DOWN NOW, AND RUN TO YOUR LOCAL LIBRARY AND START!). Think about it--right height, incredibly straight arrow, good natural leader--Oh my word! JOE is the true king of Ankh-Morpork!

There, now I have blogged it, so tonight, maybe I can actually sleep!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Update on The Solitude

Wow, it is fun! I sleep when I want, I eat when I want . I am trying to remember about eating well, it is going pretty well so far--I have a tendency to eat really badly when I am just feeding myself--"a batch of cookies makes a lovely breakfast, and then I can just eat the leftover cookies for the remaining meals"!, but this time I have had quite a fair bit of protein, fruits and veg, as well as toast (the other food group!)

I have managed to accomplish:

*Build and string a tomato trellis. (Pictures may be forthcoming)
*Clean out the chicken coop and lay down fresh sawdust (which involved HUGE amounts of chicken panic, and a bold--but futile--escape into the garage).
*Cleaned all the piles of junk out of the future chicken yard.
*Updated my Calendar
*Washed and put away LOTS of clothes
*Washed my fabulous sheets--and rejoiced in my fabulous bed!
*Paid the bills and balanced the checkbook
*Watched half of season 1 of "Pushing Daisies"
*Read for fun! And BOY, have I read! I found my new favorite thing-- On the "Robin McKinley" Blog--(the link is to your right and down a bit) on the upper left side is the link to "Pollyanna's Bookshelf"--recommendations from people who like the same types of books that I do! WHOOWEE! It hasn't steered me wrong yet! I just started at the top, and am going down, requesting the books that I haven't read yet from my library.

Which means, over the past two days, I have read (and enjoyed) Audrey, wait! by Robin Benway, I capture the castle by Dodie Smith, two by Gerald Morris The princess, the crone, and the dung-cart knight, and The savage damsel and the dwarf . I am currently reading The perilous gard by Elizabeth MariePope (It's a Newberry Honor book, and she wrote a book I love-The Sherwood Ring, so I have high expectations. I also read a fun one I grabbed off a library shelf-- Fancy white trash by Marjetta Geerling.

Lest you be too stunned by this list, I have to state that I have not gotten ANY form of housecleaning done. Sink FULL of dishes (I'm just eating out of the container, and washing forks as needed), Living room that looks like a small tornado went through it (true--and she has red hair!) vacuuming that is WAY past due. I'm just sayin'!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Let the fun begin!

So here I am at the begining of my days of solitude(yeah, the kind of solitude that merely involves having SmallDaughter and the WonderDog, 24/7 by myself, so technically, not much solitude!) This has come about because my menfolk have gone on a 10 day camping/hiking/whitewater rafting adventure, and my 2 older girls (BigGirl and LargeCousin, who is staying with us all summer while her mom dutifully studies for the Bar Exam) are leaving for a week of camp. Also, best friend K has gone to Texas, to be a DUTIFUL DAUGHTER, because her mom had Ligament Replacement Surgery in her hand. This, despite the fact that K does not do well in heat, and is currently melting like the Wicked Witch of the West. She really is a good daughter.

I will not be bored during the solitude, as I have a list of jobs and projects that is almost a full page long, as well as a bunch of library books for fun. We have also stocked up on popsicles. The bronchitis crud is slowing me down, but I will perservere!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Bleary Day

Today time is doing that oddly jerky cha-cha (slow-fast-slow-slow-fast) that happens when I get really tired. Last night, for the first time in a VERY long time, I stayed up until 4am. In my life, I am frequently up at 4--but it is very different approaching it from the other end, so to speak! The reason I was up so late was a good one--talking and laughing with a couple of friends.

I am coping stunningly well (for me) so far. You must understand that I am an incredibly sleep dependent person. When I get my required number of hours, I am a powerhouse of energy and enthusiasm. That does not actually happen very often, so most of the time, I am in "coping mode", and get through the days in a relatively unscathed fashion. However, when I am sleep deprived, especially if it happens over the course of 2 or more nights, I begin to resemble Grendel's Mother in attitude, sweetness, and (horrifyingly) occasionally in appearance.



(Ironically, I also get a splitting headache when I am really tired!)

Today I have just done my little slogging along in very small steps and written down every single job that needed to be done, because exaustion robs me of the miniscule amount of memory that I have normally. But, plodding along in my little tiny baby steps, I got a wedding announcement rough draft completed, a beautiful bridal veil made (I got to see the dress yesterday--and I can honestly say it is perfectfor her--simple, elegant and classy), some laundry and dishes done--including my sheets* and my whole list of errands run.

It is always amazing to me, how much I can accomplish when I set my timer for 5 minute chunks. AND,--in a house with 2 extremely emotional pre-pubescent girls, one perpetual toddler and a long to-do list, we have all remained cheerful, AND no one has cried or screamed (so far!).

I consider it a triumph.

*Since I am FIRMLY convinced that one of the best feelings in the world is sliding a freshly cleaned body, with sexy clean teeth** into a freshly made bed, with crisp, silky, sunnshine scented (from drying on the line) 400+ thread-count cotton sheets. OOOOHHH!

**Don't laugh--running your tongue over your freshly scrubbed teeth is an incredibly physical sensation--pay attention when you brush your teeth tonight (luxiuriating in simple physical sensations everyday boosts your appreciation of the beauty that is already surrounding you).***

***See--I told you so!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Rejoice!

This week, (thanks to the wonders of the internet) I was finally able to track down a dear friend, that I had lost (cross country moves, coupled with bad communication will do that!). For just a second I wavered--should I call right now? maybe I should wait for a better time? Then I realized--there will never be a better time! I called her, and had a wonderful time catching up.

I am still rejoicing in the marvels of a friendship reborn. Life is too short to miss the chance to tell someone they made your life better.