Wednesday, October 31, 2012

do not call

Actually any of you should call.  Last year we had to change our phone number and now we get calls every day for the people who used to have this phone number.  It is so annoying.  And on top of that we get calls now every day from the RNC, and that is apparently also thanks to the people who used to have this number.  This morning Susan got a call from Romney himself.  Wow. 

I've heard of people changing their numbers because they were being hounded by collectors.  I'm not answering my phone because of their collection calls.  Lovely.

Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


It is wonderful to have memories like these.

so much sensless stupidity

“Dear Ann Coulter,
Come on Ms. Coulter, you aren’t dumb and you aren’t shallow. So why are you continually using a word like the R-word as an insult?
I’m a 30-year-old man with Down syndrome who has struggled with the public’s perception that an intellectual disability means that I am dumb and shallow. I am not either of those things, but I do process information more slowly than the rest of you. In fact it has taken me all day to figure out how to respond to your use of the R-word last night.
I thought first of asking whether you meant to describe the President as someone who was bullied as a child by people like you, but rose above it to find a way to succeed in life as many of my fellow Special Olympians have.
Then I wondered if you meant to describe him as someone who has to struggle to be thoughtful about everything he says, as everyone else races from one snarkey sound bite to the next.
Finally, I wondered if you meant to degrade him as someone who is likely to receive bad health care, live in low grade housing with very little income and still manages to see life as a wonderful gift.
Because, Ms. Coulter, that is who we are — and much, much more.
After I saw your tweet, I realized you just wanted to belittle the President by linking him to people like me. You assumed that people would understand and accept that being linked to someone like me is an insult and you assumed you could get away with it and still appear on TV.
I have to wonder if you considered other hateful words but recoiled from the backlash.
Well, Ms. Coulter, you, and society, need to learn that being compared to people like me should be considered a badge of honor.
No one overcomes more than we do and still loves life so much.
Come join us someday at Special Olympics. See if you can walk away with your heart unchanged.
A friend you haven’t made yet,
John Franklin Stephens

Friday, October 19, 2012

Millennial day

   Today we went to the temple as a couple for the first time in 8 years!  Another family with 6 kids was going and offered to swap kids.  It was an eventful day starting with a melt down from G about missing school.  When we met up at the church with the other family, they were delayed by a seminary student getting into a low speed accident on their way out of the neighborhood. 
  Eventually we made it to the park in Orlando where the other family would watch the kids while P and I went to a session.   Going to the temple on a millennial day (when many other members from the stake are going) was cool.  I saw 3 ladies from my stake, and was able to do one of the family names for my brother in law's aunt, who is in my stake.  Sister Reid, from my growing up ward was serving in the temple so I got to see her.  And I even saw 2 sisters from the Gainesville ward.  Wild.
   We weren't able to make the 11 so that increased the time at the park to 3 hours by the time we got back.  So rather than stay, we headed to the temple for a change of scene.  The other family was taking their 2 older children to do baptisms.  It was supposed to be short but they didn't even start for an hour, and then the ward they were joining had such a large crowd that it took them another 1 and a half hours to get back.  Luckily there was a beautiful, dry retaining pond at the end of the temple grounds.  There was hills to run on, beautiful magnolia trees to climb and a nice breeze. 
  Then we headed off to see what Ikea is all about.  My goodness what a huge maze.  I didn't like that.  But I did like the food.  I got a nice roast chicken dinner thought.  I have a negative memory of the meatballs from the reunion camp out.  Too bad.  The kids got to have chicken strips and fries for $2, sweet.  We picked up a roll of butcher paper for drawing and a set of the wonderful kids cups etc..  As many as we have, somehow we run out.  3 meals a day x 3 kids uses all we have every day.  And anytime we have friends over, we're stretched too thin.  1st world problems.  Wash a dish!
   It was a 12 hour extravaganza.  I'm so grateful for the temple.  I'm grateful for my sweet husband who took me to the temple 12.5 years ago.   On Sunday when the stake president asked me how I was doing, I said "Trying to be worthy of all the blessings."

Thursday, October 18, 2012

lessons learned

Today at the playground M wanted me to push her higher.  She can pump, but she also likes to be pushed.  I'm not feeling even 75% so instead of pushing her higher I gave her a little nugget of truth.   I told her that if she wanted to do the work, she could choose how high she would go, but that if she wanted someone else to do the work, they got to choose how high she would go.

We're attending a birthday party today and I was trying to tie a bow.  I've never mastered the difference between tying a bow and tying shoelaces.  But the internet knows.  So i found this nice lesson and shazam! a nicely tied bow.  Now I'll have to keep this on bookmark so I can maybe develop a habit.

On Tuesday I saw a listing for a van that I like at a great price and with really low mileage.  So I got over eager to go check it out.  Rather than wait for P to be available, I made arrangements to go up Wednesday and take it to a mechanic.  $50 for the mechanic + $13 for the lunch in a sandwich shop (since I was in such a hurry I didn't prepare a lunch).  The mechanic noticed an oil change sticker with a different mileage, as of May.  So that blew the great mileage out of the water.  They stopped the inspection there wanting me to give them the go ahead.  I meanwhile was sitting across the road waiting for the recommended 1 hour for the inspection to be complete.  They could have called me if I'd had a functioning cell phone on me.  Once again, I've known I needed to get it fixed but hadn't taken the time.  Sheesh!  I had also noticed the maintenance sticker but the difference in mileage hadn't registered in my brain, maybe I was too much in a hurry.  So a lot of time and money were spent finding out that it was a lemon. 

But I'm learning that nothing in life is free and that the phrase "too good to be true" is true.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Things to come

 These beautiful children.  We have magical moments where I feel like I've skipped 25 years and am enjoying them as a grandparent.  I've told you how we play card games with a 7 year old, 5 year old, and 2 year old.  It's amazing.  They've started to clear and set the table.  They are so incandescently beautiful I just can't stand it, often.   lP let me braid her hair and I was completely startled by how beautiful it was.  She's the queen of crazy hair.  Someday...

  Tonight we had FHE and everyone has a job.  G gave the lesson using a flyer from his primary class.  M led us in a game of Doggie Doggie Where's Your Bone.  We used a doll for the bone (don't read too much into that) and then for the last round switched it out with a candy bar.

My father in law gave us this lovely laminated world map.  Can you believe that in 14 years M will be posing in front of this picture pointing to the area she's going to serve a mission in?  Wild.  The recent change in age for women to serve missions is a huge game changer.  I'm so excited for my girls to go on missions at 19 because they better not be getting married at 18. 

That awkward moment...

Several people have asked me if I un-friended them on Facebook.  I'm just not on it now.  So that looks a lot like being un-friended, except that if they search for me I just don't exist.  I think I will have to figure out how to have more self control and go on Facebook again.  There are several people for whom I have no other way of contacting them.  So...  But I have no self control.  I am either not eating sugar or I'm frying up a batch of doughnuts.  Sheesh!

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

nice parents...

I worry about the children.  Maybe we're being too nice to them.  I mean, there is still bed times with lots of meanness to counterbalance a days worth of trips to the library and playgrounds etc...  But it's hard to not just give them everything you can.  And it takes effort to remember that they have to practice good character when they are young so it is a habit later. 

I think one aspect of good character is gratitude and not wasting.   Honesty, Gratitude, and Generosity. 

and not biting people...

Monday, October 8, 2012

hearing aids

Our lesson this week for Primary is that "Worthy young men receive the priesthood at 12".  This is always a point of confusion since in general we try to not have boy things and girl things despite the way that we live our lives in very gender typical roles.   So the idea came to me to liken the priesthood to glasses or hearing aids.  Some people have them and some people don't.  Is that bad? 

   I honor the preisthood and have been told countless times that men shouldn't try to claim privilege because of it.  Maybe I'll liken it to a box of bandaids that you have to use for others but never yourself.   Clearly I need to read and think on this so I don't spout false doctrine or leave the girls wondering what's up.  I cannot recall ever wishing to have the priesthood.  I have also never desired to be the sole breadwinner for our family, thought I have done that for a little while. 

  We have such a covetous society and in some ways it's hard to understand the idea of "I don't need everything..." let alone help kids understand it.  I do want my children to appreciate our tremendous blessings.  I want them to escape the cycle of more is better and learn that more is just more.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

a new light

With the new light in the bathroom, certain dingy spots were suddenly glaring at me.  The sink had a calcium mark from a previous faucet.  I tried CLR, I tried soft scrub.  Finally I remembered the good old Brillo trick and got the calcium marks off pretty quick.  I also got the soap stain off the sink. 

I also scrubbed the bath with the brillo pad.  Awesome!!  It's my new magic eraser.  Obviously not good for walls, but amazing on soap scum.

Friday, October 5, 2012

My mom used to say...

 When I was 13 or so I remember going in and out of K-mart several times consulting with my mom over what coat I should buy.  (Man, wouldn't it be nice to send your kids into the store?)  My mom used to say I was shopping for the millennium.   Witness these cast iron muffin pans.  Yes, they are meant to be heirlooms.  Yes, I spent long spans of time deciding what to get and then finding the pest price on them.
 And yes, they can fit into a toaster oven when all the kids grow up and all I need is one box of Jiffy mix worth of muffins.  And yes! they stack so they don't take up tons of storage.  And yes! they are both non-stick and I can use a knife when they are not quite non stick enough.  Usually I just turn it upside down and and the muffins fall out.  But I have in the past wanted to use a knife on muffin pans but because they were non-stick I couldn't.
 One of these lights is more effective than the other.  The light on the left was not very effective, but its partner would burn out florescent bulbs in months.   So for the last few weeks the bathroom was sort of dark. 
The new light on the right, which we now have a matching pair, is amazingly bright.  Who knew lighting could remodel the bathroom?  I really like the lights.  You can't tell because they are so bright, but they have a pretty wavy pattern in the glass.  The cord will straighten ought in a few days and then I'll take the glamor shots.  I love it when I can buy something that makes me look like I have better taste than I do.  These are a mix and match light you can buy in Home Depot.  After an hour of wandering around with the kids, we went back for another look and found these.  Hurray!  And the icing on the cake is that with these new bright lights the iridescence on the shell stained glass really pops.  The children were oohing and ahhing over it.  They'd never seen it in these 11 months we've lived here.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Amazing Bread

The secret to bread dough a strong 5 year old can make is as follows:
           combine and let sit for 10 minutes
2 cups warm water
1 Tbs yeast
          add all at once and then toss like a salad:
6 heaping cups of bread flour
1 Tbs salt
2 Tbs brown sugar (optional)
          The goal hear is to make many small pellets
          of flour coated dough.  Then you add:
1/4 oil or 2Tbs of butter/lard what have you.
          Adding the oil at this point takes your bread
straight to kneading stage.  So instead of having it
get harder and harder to stir, you just dig in with
your hands.  Also, the oil makes it so your hands
don't get so sticky.  It's magic.

Even more magical than a cheek full of fruit snacks.


I read this article which my husband posted on facebook which I no longer play (but I went on to see what he was thinking)... sad, so sad.

On a side note I am amazed how much more often I say yes to my kids when I have nothing in my inbox and don't have facebook to browse.

So reading this article I was feeling a little bad that someone might think I don't like teachers because I homeschool.  Dude!  I love teachers!  I was one.  I am one.  I am married to one.  I know what an impossible task they throw themselves at.  What I don't like is school.  And more than that, I don't like other kids and the values they bring with them to school.  We are not religious homeschoolers, but call me self righteous I don't want my kid picking up the apathy and drama.  OK we grow plenty of drama ourselves. 

M told me on Friday that her group had gone to a playground across the street and had to run away because of the alligators.  There are a lot of details when she tells this story.  Knowing her amazing kindy teacher, I suggested that maybe the alligators weren't real but just looked like alligators.  "No mom, they were real.  They had teeth and eyes and were coming at us..."    I was worried about this apparent "story making" and discussed it with P.   Lo and behold, it's ok, normal even for a 5 year old to honestly believe the story they have created.   And it turns out that society and our lives in general are held together by our holding fast to the stories we tell ourselves.   Reality schmeality.

This year we started formally "unschooling" M, since she's 5 and all.  In addition to formally hanging out, reading and playing, we attend a Waldorf group on Mondays and Fridays.   I've mentioned this a few times.  This group is mega ambitious.  I like the people.  I like their children.   Monday and Friday are like a real school day.  M goes around with the Kindy group for 4 hours.  lP plays on the playground being watched by various moms who are available.  I teach 4 classes of music on Fridays.

A few weeks ago, when the group started for the year, there were lots of new families.  One of the new families had a son that was the sort of kid I don't want to be around.   He was actively challenging me as a teacher, rude to the other children, and just got up and left when he felt like it.  I liked the mom, we had some nice chats.  But the child was being raised in a vacuum of discipline and his free spirit was encouraged.  He'll probably grow up to make great contributions to the world.  But while he is still learning, he's a complete disruption to the teacher and other students.    The group encouraged them to find another approach since the Waldorf method is very specific about being teacher led and being nice to each other.  That experience was a big reminder of how nice it is to work with a small group of children whose parents expect them to be nice.

In other news, the kids have learned to make bread.  Crazy.  This picture is M with the cinnamon rolls she made all by herself.  My only contribution was placing them in the pan.  G has also made 2 batches of dough but not made it through the shaping process.   His second batch is rising though so he may get to make cinnamon rolls tonight.  Lucky me!  M's mouth is distended in this picture because she had an entire pack of fruit snacks surrounding her 2 Augmentin tablets.  (Note to self: if the doctor prescribes an Augmentin product, the children will not take it so it does no good.)  She ended up spitting it in the trash just moments later.