Monday, December 15, 2014

True Lies

Remember that thing moms used to tell their kids, "If you keeping pulling faces like that, your face is going to stay that way..."?

Well.  I spent the last few days scowling for lots of reasons that would bore you.  And now I have a new, permanent, vertical line in between my eyebrows. 

Merry Christmas, Charlotte.  Serves you right.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Halloween 2014

Damon: Robin Hood
Claire: Vampire
Anne: Witch (takes after her mother)
Julia: wore a t-shirt with a cat on it, and a cat-ear headband for 30 seconds.  Also has the makings of a witch, as seen below.

Damon and Anne went trick-or-treating by themselves.  Claire went trick-or-treating with a friend.  You read that right, folks.  Jake and I stayed home with the Juje (that's Julia--I wanted her nickname to be Jules, but it hasn't panned out.)  Best Halloween ever.

Note: photography on this blog will reach new lows now.  Julia performed some dark magic on our camera shutter thingy, and i-pads don't take the best pics in the world, as you can see above.  We could get a new camera, but I hate taking pictures almost as much as I hate shopping, so it'll be a while before I get around to that.

Friday, September 26, 2014

quick update

We're in our house.  After scrubbing and scrubbing and scrubbing it is finally decently clean, except for the air we breath.  I thought the carpet and duct cleaning had gotten rid of the smell, but it turns out we have just gotten used to it (cringe).  I went to St. George for a quick girls' weekend (my abs still hurt from laughing so hard.  If you're not a girl in my family, feel jealous) and when I got back, there was that stench I thought we'd vanquished, strong as ever.  Big depressed sigh. 

Looks like we'll need to replace the carpets and paint sooner than I thought.  I have proved wrong that saying President Monson likes: "I have wept in the night for the shortness of sight that to somebody's need made me blind.  But I never have yet, felt a tinge of regret, for being a little too kind." During the final walk-through--you know, your last chance to back out of the house before you sign your name in blood for it, all I thought was Gee, what a great house.  It's a little dirty, but that's no problem.  We'll get it cleaned up in no time.  That old man did the best he could.  He probably felt like a hero just getting all of his stuff out.  It would hurt his feelings if we complained.  Three days of deep cleaning later, the end still not in sight, you better believe I was cursing myself.  Charlotte, you should have asked for $1000 from that geezer to compensate for the state of this house!  Brimhall was right: you see the world through rose-colored glasses, and now you're paying the price!  Idiot!  And he took the mirrors out of the bathrooms! Could you not have noticted that before it was too late?!  Now you have to buy new mirrors, and those are not cheap! Fool!  $#!%!

On the bright side: the kids are in good schools.  Even Anne is warming up to Kansas.  She hasn't cried since Monday for Michigan.  We're also in a good ward with a promising book group.  I've only been to one meeting, but I sense some kindred spirits there.

Back to the not-so-bright side: I just got our water bill.  I haven't gotten out the calculator and Michigan bills yet to compare and confirm, but I think water is 3x more expensive here.  I might have to switch to bathing every other day and join the house in stinkiness.  These old toilets that never clog because they empty a small pond every time you flush are gonna have to go, too. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

1st Day of School

After their first day.  Claire was distracted by Wild Kratts and couldn't give me a good smile, darn it.  We're still in corporate housing, and will be for another two weeks.

Thursday, August 7, 2014


Before the movers pack up the computer... Wait--gotta relay the comment one of the packers just made.

Me: Do you need to pack up the computer now?

Him: No, we'll do that very last.  And we'll box up the kids last, too.  Don't worry.  We poke holes in the top.

Claire: They're going to put us in boxes?!

Me: No.

Packer: No, we usually use plastic bags for that.

Uh?!  Eeek!  Who is packing us up?!  Get me out of here!  And not in a plastic bag, please.

Anyway, we're moving to Kansas.  This job opportunity was sprung on us pretty quickly, and we've had to rush to get the house sold, a new house found, and blah blah blah so the kids can start school on time NEXT WEEK in Kansas.  Kansas City area.  It's pretty nice.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Hot and humid right now, though.

So we're bidding farewell to our wonderful ward (will I ever love another ward like this one?  Probably not.  It's like the ward I grew up in.  Actually, it's not at all, except that it's just as dear to my heart.) and our wonderful neighbors and Michigan. 

And the geckos.  Two of whom are buried in the backyard.  I accidentally killed them.  I'll blog about that later.  My time is up.  Call me on my cell if you need me.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Common Core: Final Thoughts (I hope--I'm sick of this)

Just talked to an aide for my state senator.  So: it's the teachers/school districts that choose the curriculum.  Common Core provides the standards (e.g. in 3rd grade a kid show know how to do this, in 5th grade a kid should know how to read that, etc).  Teachers decide how to teach and what to use to help children meet those standards.  I wish I had known that before I e-mailed the teacher and attacked the worksheet--I could have been much more tactful.  No wonder she was rather defensive.  She probably picked that workbook herself. Poor lady.

I've been e-mailing a friend over this.  I wrote to her: "This isn't the first history worksheet I've had problems with. Also I don't look at all of them (who has time?), and it makes me wonder if there are other bad ones slipping by me.  I hate paying teachers to teach my son things I disagree with.  It makes me want to dump some workbooks in the harbor :-)"

She wrote back:  "The best thing, though, is that if you DO see it and you discuss it with him, it teaches him how to be a critical thinker, which is a valuable lesson.  We spend 4 years in college trying to teach that.  It can be a valuable conversation to point out what you don't like and talk about it with him."

I feel much better after reading that.  I've been very agitated over this whole thing.  I don't want to home school, and yet I don't want my children being taught incorrect principles.  I'm going to trust that Heaven will help me see the bad things, so I can discuss them with my children and help them see right from wrong and become critical thinkers.  I feel good about that.  Not so excited about forever checking up on what is being taught, but it is my job...

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Common Core: Thoughts from people other than me

You don't have to be a conservative like me to be wary of Common Core.  Check out this website:

Also, read excerpts from my mother-in-law's e-mails to me (posted with her permission):

"Charlotte dear,  Just read your blog quickly.  You are not off base about common core ... It is the "Growing Up Caring" philosophy I fought against years ago.  That textbook also subtly implied that parents are the enemy.  Never dismiss your intuition.  It was my intuition that told me something was terribly wrong with the course and teachings of that book, and my feelings were confirmed when we obtained the teacher's manual which instructed the teachers to create a dichotomy in the classroom and then work to the end that the students would overcome their belief in absolutes.  Frightening!  At that time I also read the statement that the secular humanists were using the school classroom as their pulpit.  Are we not seeing  the fruit of their labors in our society today?

"Another quick thought:  Perhaps ... the teachers don't intend to disparage parents, yet the end result is exactly that.  Message of sheets:  Parents force; parents are unfair; where will it lead?  rebellion against parents is justified.  (One who is drunk and driving doesn't intend to kill the passengers in the oncoming car when he hits head on, but he does.  Intention is not the whole ball game.  Result, fruit of action is the greater consideration.  The poor judgment of ... teachers, though innocent of evil intent, does not justify the result.  Parents need to take action to overcome that which injures the family.)"

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Common Core: Our Tax Dollars Hard at Work

Damon, my 5th grader, showed me one of his school workbooks.  You should take a look, too.  Note this is Common Core.

 Below are some metaphors comparing mothers to Great Britain, babysitters to British soldiers, and a child to the colonists.

(1st Picture) Mother: I built this fence for your own safety.  Please don't leave the yard.  In History: Great Britain orders the colonists not to settle in the west.  They said it was to protect the colonists.

(2nd Picture) Child: Why should I have to act like the babysitter's servant?  In History: The colonists are angry about having to house and feed the troops.

(3rd Picture) Mother: You need to pay me a quarter if you're going to use the phone.  In History: Colonists protest about taxation without representation.

I took a better picture of the next page.  You can read it yourself.

Is anyone feeling disgusted or outraged yet?  I'm not sure if the purpose of this activity is to:
1. Undermine the role of parents
2. Undermine the importance of the American Revolution or
3. Teach children how to make clumsy metaphors.
It does all three quite well.  I love that we pay taxes so the masterminds behind Common Core can teach our children such wonderful things.  What do we do?  Refuse to pay taxes like Thoreau and go to jail?  I think I'll start by e-mailing my state representatives, letting them know how displeased I am with Common Core.  If you are bothered by Common Core, please do the same.  Update: See May 21, 2014 post.

Sidebar: I flipped through the workbook and found positive things, too, like Patrick Henry's "Give me liberty or give me death" speech.  This reminds me of George Will's statement, comparing Common Core to the thin end of an enormous wedge.  Now there's a good (and frightening) metaphor.

Another Sidebar: I e-mailed my concerns to Damon's teacher.  She said the purpose of the worksheet is to show how Great Britain treated the colonists like children.  So maybe I'm way off-base here.  Gah.  I hate having to question my original conclusions...

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Drive

We woke up to snow this morning.  Anne cried.  But we spent spring break in South Carolina with Justin and Swiss, and we still carry the warmth of it in our hearts.  Except when I remember certain phrases I overheard there like, "Swiss, could you adopt us?" and "Swiss, you're way more awesome than our mom."

The kids and I drove down without Jake.  Yes, I am awesome in my own right, regardless of what my kids think. It wasn't that bad.  Except for the hotel we stayed at on the way down.  An old ornery shriveled man was working the check-in desk.  With a wig pulled back in a bun and a rocking chair, he could have been Mother.  If he'd been dead.  Which he wasn't quite.  He was re-keying a room card for a soft-spoken man giving me the creeps.  (Why didn't I just go to a different hotel?  I was tired, that's why.) "What's your room number?" Mother barked.  "208," replied Norman Bates quietly.  "What's that?" Mother barked again.  "208," repeated Norman, not raising his voice a decibel.  Eventually Mother managed to read his lips and re-key his card, while announcing to me and Norman that my room would be 211.  Gulp.  I hurried out to the car to drive to a spot as close to our room as possible.  Meanwhile Norman was standing on the sidewalk staring at me.  I stared back.  Didn't phase him a bit.  I wouldn't hurt a fly, I could practically hear him say.

I rushed the kids and our stuff into the hotel room, yanked the curtains closed and locked the door.  "Why can't we have the curtains open?" they asked.  "Because I said so!  Get your pajamas on!"

It wasn't the best night's sleep I've ever had, needless to say.  In the morning Anne wanted to know, "Why are you so grouchy still?  You said you'd try to be nicer today."  That was before I had to worry about dying in the shower in a pool of chocolate syrup.  We got packed up and went to get our free breakfast.  That's when I started to relax.  It was light outside and there were other people eating breakfast, people who didn't creep me out.  I felt so much better that when I saw Norman Bates eating in a corner and giggling to himself I felt sorry for him.  Poor guy.  We made it to our final destination that evening, but the kids just got off the bus so I'll have to blog about that later.  REEE, REEE, REEE! (That's the sound of the knife in Psycho, folks.)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Hot Yoga

My friend C strong-armed me into trying Intentional Yoga in Kalamazoo.  They do hot yoga.  That's yoga in 100 degrees.  Yesterday was my first time.

They keep the room dark which is nice.  Nobody wants to see sweat pouring off the nose of his/her neighbor.  Nobody wants her neighbors to see sweat pouring off her own nose.  Also, I have yet to find garment-friendly yoga clothes.  I mean, my g's are covered by my clothes initially, but one down dog, and they're poking out.  Since it was dark, though, I didn't worry about it.  It's not like anyone would have stared at me anyway.  We were all staring at the instructor and the tall girl who knew what she was doing so we could figure out what we were supposed to do.

(Note to self: label your right hand and foot with R and your left hand and foot with L before the next class.  Also, ask your kindergarten teacher why she let you go on to 1st grade without knowing left from right.)

I've only ever done yoga with the TV before yesterday, so I'm not sure if this is typical, but there was no talking (except from the instructor) going on.  I guess everyone was meditating or concentrating or something.  I really wanted to ask, "Is this pose supposed to make my arm go numb?  Because I can't feel my fingers anymore" and "Could you wait just a second while I figure out which is my right hand and which is my right toe?"  But I didn't.  Talking and questions were clearly forbidden.

The practice was tough.  And sweaty.  I've never sweated so profusely in my life.  But when it was over, I couldn't believe how good I felt.  Resentment toward C for talking me into hot yoga was totally gone.  I didn't even know what resentment was anymore because all I felt was love and goodwill toward all of God's children.  When I got home I called my sister and told her about it.  "So it makes you delusional," was her response.

Pretty soon, though, the euphoria was gone, I was exhausted and shaky, and promptly downed half the chocolate chip cookies I'd made for the kids. I had a stomach ache coupled with ravenous hunger for the rest of the day, didn't stop eating until 10 pm, slept like the dead that night, and woke up sore but strangely eager to do hot yoga again.  I'm planning to go to the 5:45 AM session on Monday.  Care to join me?

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Homemade Deodorant Winner

Here it is--a deodorant recipe that lasts 12+ hours (on a good, less-stress-than-some day):

Baking soda
Corn starch or arrowroot powder
Coconut oil
Lavender essential oil
Patchouli essential oil (I ordered this one for my anti-wrinkle face lotion I'm experimenting with.  I decided to toss it in the deod because some people say it has antimicrobial properties and adds depth to whatever fragrance you mix it with.  It has a very strong smell, so I only added a few drops.  The deod smells like lavender, which isn't as good as, say, Dove Cool Essentials, but it's growing on me.)

It's very melty.  As soon as it touches my armpit it's dripping all over.  But, I've decided it's worth it.  It doesn't stain as long as I don't put on too much.  And at my Grandad's funeral I was reminded why I'd started experimenting with homemade stuff to begin with: I wore commercial antiperspirant in Colorado not wanting to risk B.O. at such an important occasion; in the shower, when I was washing my armpits, there was that antiperspirant film that's almost impossible to wash off.  I hate it.  So, sorry everyone.  I would rather risk offending you with my body odor than feel un-slippery armpits when I'm in the shower. 

Friday, February 21, 2014

Common Core: Where Did it Come from?

Google United Nations Agenda 21.  Do some research.  Let me know if you are convinced the United Nations had nothing to do with Common Core.  I'm afraid it did.  And does.

Now read  George Will's piece on Common Core.  If the Federal Government has no right to dictate what is taught in our public schools, what in the world is the U.N. doing telling us what to teach?

You've got to admire how Common Core is promoted as a wonderful program for teaching kids math, reading, and writing; how great it would be if every state were on the same page so if kids moved out of state, their new school would be teaching the same thing their old school was teaching.  No one mentions that Common Core also includes Social Studies and History.  No one denies it, of course, but good luck finding out exactly what they plan to teach.  I've already described Damon's lessons on Why Americans Are Evil.  If that's Common Core, I don't want anymore.

Now, if you start reading through Agenda 21, it's not so bad. It sounds like all the U.N. wants to do is save the planet.  If you think they've got good ideas on how to do that, that's great.  Write a blog.  Go on Good Morning America.  Start riding your bike to work and to the grocery store, move into a small home, stop using toilet paper, and don't go on exotic vacations.  Then maybe I'll believe you are more interested in saving the planet than ruling the world.  DON'T SNEAK YOUR AGENDA THROUGH THE BACK DOOR OF MY CHILD'S SCHOOL.  It smacks of something Chairman Mao, the Khmer Rouge, or Hitler would have done.  Or did.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Failed Spiritual Moment

Anne likes to have a story while we're driving.  Today on the way to Claire's physical therapy I told my favorite one about the handcart pioneers, the one that ends with,

"I have pulled my handcart when I was so weak and weary from illness and lack of food that I could hardly put one foot ahead of the other. I have looked ahead and seen a patch of sand or a hill slope and I have said, I can go only that far and there I must give up, for I cannot pull the load through it...I have gone on to that sand and when I reached it, the cart began pushing me. I have looked back many times to see who was pushing my cart, but my eyes saw no one. I knew then that the angels of God were there."

I was so choked up I almost couldn't finish telling it.

Claire's response was, "Spooky!  Haunted handcarts!"

Forgive me, Mormon pioneers.  I have failed you.

The Toughest Man We Ever Knew

I hope my roof doesn't collapse, but I've gotta take a break.  There are at least two feet of snow up there, its raining and making the snow heavier by the minute, and raking it off is such hard work my arms are shaking as I type.

Going to Manassa, CO for my Grandad's funeral was so wonderful.  It was a happier time than my Grandma Barbara's funeral a year and a half ago.  It was painful then to see my Grandad so sad.


Sharing memories about Grandad at Danette and Perry's.  Uncle Dan told about a time many years ago he was helping Grandad load hay on the back of a man's trailer.  When the hay was loaded the man hopped in his truck and said, "I'll pay you next week."  Grandad planted himself in front of the truck and said, "No, you'll pay me now.  Cash."  The man said, "I don't have any cash.  I'll give you a check."  Grandad said, "No, your checks are no good.  I told you it would be cash."  The man continued to argue but Grandad was firm, and Dan had to unload the hay.  Cousin-in-law Jared said, "Since Grandad was a Marine and I was in the airforce, I was talking with him one time because we had both had similar experiences with bullets flying past our heads.  He told me to find something to be grateful for in every situation.  A while later I was in a situation where a suicide bomber blew himself up and his face landed at my feet.  I heard Grandad's voice telling me to find something to be grateful for and I thought, 'I'm grateful that's not my face.'"

The funeral (how I wish I'd taken notes!): all the grandson's wore one of Grandad's ties.  All the granddaughters wore Grandma's beads.  Scott told this story.  Lex talked about how tough Grandad was and how we hoped some of that toughness rubbed off on Justin, who just joined the navy.  He talked about what a good man Grandad was, how he hoped we'd all live so that someday we could once again hear him say, "For heck's sakes, it's Lex" (or Charlotte or Lynsey or Phillip--you get the picture), and how Grandad had told him to never take any wooden nickels, and thanks to that advice, he never has taken a wooden nickel to this day.  Aunt Deon, Grandad's only sibling (who looks fantastic, btw) talked about growing up with Grandad, going to dances with him, how fun he was to dance with and how she knew he was always watching out for her, how he didn't talk much or sing very well, but the first time he let her ride with him from the cabin into town, they would sing as they rode their horses.  On the high notes he would stand up in his stirrups so he could reach those high notes.

The cemetery: When a Marine did the role call and all the other Marines answered "Here" (or was it "Present" or something else?) and then called for Cletus M. Gilleland three times before someone said he wasn't present because he had been called home, I cried like a baby.

As tough as Grandad was, we'll never forget how tender and good he was, either.  How he always greeted us by name (the right name, I might add.  I call my kids and siblings the wrong names all the time, calling Damon "Justin," for example.  I inherited that problem from my mom.) and gave such warm hugs.  How he cared for Grandma, how devoted he was as her health failed.  How sincerely and beautifully he prayed.

Enough.  The snow is waiting for me, crying gives me a headache, and we've been blessed with having more to celebrate than to mourn.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Winner of the Popularity Contest

When Julia and I got home from the airport last night this was what happened:

"Julia's home!  Julia!  Can I hold Julia?  Awww, Julia.  Oh, hi, Mom."

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Before I fly out...

and because I'm tired of laundry and want a break, here's a conversation from this morning.

Damon: I don't like how half of scientists are trying to save gorillas from going extinct, and the other half, the doctor ones, are doing experiments on them to try to find cures for cancer.  It's like they're killing them to save us.

Me:  And you don't like that?

Damon: No.

Me (in my head, because I'd hate to make my son despise me): I like it.  I'm all for saving us.

Friday, February 14, 2014

One from the Greatest Generation

My Grandad died yesterday. 

Sunday Julia and I get to fly to Colorado for his funeral where we will celebrate a life well lived, now reunited with his sweetheart.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

attempt 3.5

So much to blog about, so little time.  But I must make time for the really important thing: homemade deodorant attempt #3.5

Cloves and cutie [you know, those yummy little tangerine things from Sam's Club] peel simmered in coconut oil and beeswax.  Removed the cutie peel and cloves, mixed the wax and oil with baking soda, and poured in deod container. 

Results: armpits that smell like Christmas for some of the day, and armpits of clothing stained yellow.  I've really gotta stop using beeswax, but it makes the deod solid enough to keep and apply at room temperature.  Deod in the fridge = annoying + out of sight, out of mind (meaning: I forget to put it on.  Homemade deodorant may not work well, but it works much better than nothing, friends).

HOWEVER!  My lavender oil arrives tonight, so stay tuned for tomorrow's new and exciting attempt.  Oh, how I hope I won't have an allergic reaction to lavender oil.  It's my last hope.  But hark! Did I just hear Yoda whispering "There is another"?  No, Charlotte.  Get a grip.  You're just a delusional nerd addicted to experimenting with homemade deodorant.

Friday, January 24, 2014

before and after

I forgot to get a good 'before' picture of this room.  Here's the best I could find:

And the nasty sister of the vertical blinds you see on the left (above) is still in the kitchen (below), so you can use your imagination to recreate the ugliness we used to live with in the family room.  They're even uglier in real life.

But now look:
Grrr.  My camera is making the before look better than it was and is not doing justice to the after.  Plus look at that chair--in real life it matches the sofa.  What's going on here?  I'll have to take another picture during the day.  Because the problem is the camera's flash and the fact that it's night, not my photography skills.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Deodorant Experiments

Attempt #1. Coconut Oil, baking soda, corn starch
Pros: easy to make
Cons: has to be kept in the fridge, B.O. by dinner time, greasy stains on clothes

Attempt #2. Coconut Oil, baking soda, bentonite clay, beeswax, 1 drop of peppermint oil (only essential oil I had on hand)
Pros: Less B.O., but still not as good as Secret. Doesn't have to be kept in the fridge.
Cons: beeswax + peppermint oil = weird smell; bentonite clay turned green and has permanently stained some of my clothes.

3. Coconut oil, Shea butter, beeswax, baking soda, vanilla extract
Pros: not green, works better than #1, but not as well as #2.  Essential oil must be important.
Cons: stains my clothes yellow, smelled like sugar cookie dough for a few days (bad because I'm trying not to eat cookies and this makes me want to eat cookies), now is smelling more and more like Shea butter (blech)--the vanilla extract must be wearing off.

4. Haven't tried this yet--I'm waiting for my lavender oil to arrive.  Maybe it will help me smell good and develop a buxom bust, like it did for those boys in Colorado: coconut oil, beeswax, baking soda, lavender oil.  If that doesn't work, I quit.  I'm going back to the real deal.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

a white gal's perspective

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.
         ~Martin Luther King, Jr.
The past is to be learned from but not lived in. We look back to claim the embers from glowing experiences but not the ashes. And when we have learned what we need to learn and have brought with us the best that we have experienced, then we look ahead and remember that faith is always pointed toward the future.
        ~Jeffry R. Holland
A few weeks ago, while Claire was at her Simply the Best program (where she works on gross motor skills like throwing, riding a bike, etc.), I drove with Anne and Julia over to the mall to pick up some curtain rods I'd ordered. 
To get to the pick-up area I had to drive through a group of 5-7 teenage boys who looked like they were up to no good.  I made a point to make eye contact and smile at the ones who had to step out of the way so I could drive past.  (I have this theory that if you smile and make eye contact with people, they'll be less likely to rob you or beat you up--you know, assert your humanity and remind them of theirs.  If this is a bad theory, please let me know before I get myself killed.)
I parked the car and was about to get the girls out, when two of those boys, now about 20 yards away, started punching each other.  One kid threw the other down on the snow-packed parking lot and was kicking him in the stomach.  Naturally, there's only one thing a mother can do in a situation like this.  Start yelling.
They stopped, but then the one who had been winning the fight started calling the other one the n-word.  This startled me because the good fighter looked like he was part black, and the not-so-good-fighter was definitely white.  I live in a bubble and my experience with the n-word is limited to
*novels like Huckleberry Finn and Roots
*the overpass in my hometown where the high school's two white supremacists spray-painted it in an attempt to intimidate the town's one black man, who never seemed to get intimidated 
*the movie Rush Hour.

According to Ocean's Eleven, the good fighter should have been calling the other kid 'cracker,' rather than the n-word.  Obviously he was very angry.  My guess is he was throwing out the ugliest word he could think of.  But I don't know.  Unlike Paula Dean, I grew up in the 80s and 90s where that word was not used by decent, educated people.
Startled or not, more yelling was required.  "KNOCK IT OFF!  THAT'S ENOUGH!  KNOCK IT OFF!"  And the boys went inside, where they could call each other (and me, probably) ugly names in peace.
My question isn't 'What is the correct way to use the n-word?'  We all know is should be left in the ash heap of history.  Nor am I asking 'Why do boys so often resort to violence while their friends stand by and watch?'  Rather, I want know 1. Why did none of those kids have coats on?  It was 20 degrees outside and  2.  Why, at 5:15 on a school night were those boys not at home doing homework, or at their after-school job, or participating in some positive extra-curricular activity?  I have to think that MLK Jr. assumed that in the future, children, regardless of color, would be developing worthwhile characters.  I'm not sure those boys are, and I blame their parents.  I'd like to take them by the shoulders, shake them, and yell (because I'm good at that), "You are raising human beings!  It's important!  Give them something better to do than beat each other up on a school night in freezing weather!" 
I'll have to add those boys to my nightly prayers.  Maybe you should, too.  I'm sure their Heavenly Parents will help them if their earthly parents won't.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

natural shmatural

I dedicate this post to Patti, my BYU Stats professor.  Most useful class I ever took.

The more I read about all natural deodorant and lotion, the more I become disenchanted.  Take the aluminum thing in deod.  First of all, the study that suggested a link between aluminum and Alzheimer's showed a 1% correlation.  Not exactly staggering or convincing.  Secondly, a lot of all-natural peeps use bentonite or kaolin clay to make their deod.  Guess what one of the main components of those clays is?  Aluminum.  Wellness Mama calls commercial deodorant and lotion "cancer in a tube," but she drinks bentonite clay mixed with water, uses a bentonite face mask twice a week (I really like the mask thing, BTW--makes my skin feel great), and uses the clay as a medicine on scrapes.  Aluminum from a lab is dangerous, but aluminum from a volcano is healthful?  Come on.  My guess: neither one is going to kill you, or rob you of your mental capacity.

On to parabens in lotion.  Parabens are preservatives.  They've been used for 70 years.  One poorly done study found paraben in 18 out of 20 breast cancer tumors.  Either the doctor had no studies done on healthy people, or she left those findings out of her report because they didn't support her assertion that parabens might be causing breast cancer.  Numerous studies have been done since, none showing that parabens cause cancer.  News flash: doctors really do want to find causes of and cures for cancer.  When they find one, I can guarantee that lotion manufacturers aren't going to use the carcinogen in their product anymore (if it was ever there to begin with).

Just because it grows on God's green earth doesn't mean it's good for you.  Take hemlock and tobacco for example.  All-natural doesn't mean free from side effects, either.  Lavender oil and tea tree oil can cause adolescent boys to develop breasts.  Tea tree oil is toxic to children and animals.  One boy drank some by mistake and it put him in a coma.

I refuse to panic anymore, folks.

I hate unsubstantiated rumors.  I hate that I get drawn in by them.  It's annoying and expensive at best, dangerous at worst.  Take Andrew Wakefield and his assertion that MMR vaccines cause autism.  His unethical (taking blood samples from kids at his son's birthday party!) and fraudulent (some of the autistic children in his study exhibited autistic traits before they were given the vaccine--he failed to mention that) study caused me to be afraid of vaccines for a while after Claire was diagnosed with Asperger's.  When you're scared and desperate, you grasp at straws and you tend to believe anything.  And I was so busy setting up a therapy program, I had no time to research what was true and what was false, and for some reason, fiction is everywhere and truth is often buried beneath the rubbish.  Luckily, Julia wasn't born then.  If she had been, I might not have had her immunized.  And then she might have gotten measles or died from whooping cough or meningitis. 

Fact: vaccines prevent disease and save lives.  Fact: as of right now, no one knows what causes autism.  The one thing they've been able to rule out is the MMR vaccine.

I am descending from my soap box now.

Anyway, I'm still using my all-natural homemade stuff for now.  It's fun to make, and I spent a pretty penny on the supplies, so you better believe I'm going to use it up.  Still haven't found a deodorant that works as well as the commercial stuff, but I haven't given up hope yet.  If you decide to go that route, I suggest you do it for the fun of it, not because it's going to make you live longer.  Or smell better.

Thursday, January 9, 2014


We've just had 4 days of no church, no school, and no YW/Scouts/Activity Days thanks to the weather!  It's been nice.  For most of us, anyway.  Last night when I told the kids there would be school in the morning Anne said, "Good.  I'm sick of this."

Our schedule will continue to be lighter moving forward because Damon is taking a break from Tae Kwon Do until school is out.  It makes me and Jake sad, but Damon says he's too stressed out with homework, piano, and Scouts.

In other news, I feel like I've given the impression that we're a bunch of potty mouths in this house.  That's not the case.  After Anne put together her four-letter-word shown in the previous post, she sounded it out and said, "What does that mean?"  Then Claire came in, sounded it out, and asked the same question.

At a party recently, Anne and a friend were playing a game where you read hypothetical questions off of cards.  The friend read to Anne,  "Would you rather have 4 nostrils or 2 b***cracks?"  Claire overheard and asked, "What's a b***crack?"  We don't use the b-word in our house--we say 'bum' or 'bottom.'  (BTW, who came up with such a vulgar game?  Did these people not have mothers?)

So, realizing that it might be a good idea to make my girls less innocent before they went back to school and embarrassed themselves by asking questions that would seem odd to most kids, I decided to teach them a few things, such as the meaning of certain words that we don't use in our house.  We also discussed reproduction a little bit, and how that's not an appropriate topic for school.

"Oh, you mean S-E-X that some kids at school were talking about one day?" asked Claire.

Yes, Claire.  Clearly your mother was in idiot to wait until you were in 2nd grade to have this discussion.  Sometimes I hate public school and the parents who send their kids there.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Christmas Gifts from the Grandparents (PG rated post)

The kids spent their Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa H. on Fannie May chocolates.

Grandma and Grandpa F. gave them a game with lettered dice you roll and see how many words you can make. (I'm pretty sure they played this game in Jane Austen's Emma, FYI.  Frank Churchill spelled "blunder".)  Here's Anne's first effort:

Thursday, January 2, 2014

So this is Christmas (Eve)

I made a critical error this year.  Seized by a sudden need for extreme frugality, I decided to make the gingerbread dough for the kids' gingerbread houses out of expired flour and shortening from our food storage.  Why not put it to use rather than throwing it all away?  The kids like building gingerbread houses, but I've never really seen them eat the houses.  This was going to be great!  And so frugal!  And stinky.  Rancid flour and shortening smell bad, folks.  I had to use extra allspice to cover the stench.  But it baked up beautifully.  Reminds me of that episode of Downton Abbey where the Machiavellian footman spends all his savings on phony black market goods.  Anyway, as I was rolling out walls and rooftops Anne tried to sneak some dough.  We generally eat raw cookie dough in this house.  If we die prematurely, the cause will be salmonella poisoning.

"Sorry kids, you can't eat this.  I made it from spoiled flour and shortening."  Damon and Anne were disappointed.  Claire was devastated.

Over the course of the day, she sobbed things like, "I'm going to eat mine anyway.  I don't care if it tastes bad!  Why did you make gingerbread we can't eat!  The gingerbread houses are ruined!  I don't even want to make gingerbread houses now! I'm never going to make gingerbread houses again! I'm going to make mine hideous on purpose.  Why did you make it bad!  Now it's ruined!"  It went on and on, interspersed with tears of rage.

This was bad timing.  We had a party to go to that night at Bliss and Showered Gingham's (names have been changed to protect privacy).  I needed to make an ├ęclair cake and chicken noodle soup, make sure everyone had their white elephant gift wrapped and ready, make royal icing, and oversee the gingerbread house construction.  To top it all off, I had my own (hormone-induced) rage to contend with.

Stress makes me cranky.  But hormones being out of whack + stress makes me a teetotal witch.  I start caring what people think of me, and I'm convinced they're not thinking good things.  I started thinking, "My mom would have had everything done last night, and her house would be clean.  We would all be having a wonderful time if I could be as disciplined and talented as my mother, but I'm not!  I'm a failure!  I'll never be as great as my mom!  It's going to be the worst Christmas ever! AAAAAAAGH!" (Normal Me also knows I'll never be as great as my mom but is not bothered by it.  Mom is fantastic, but she and Dad raised me to believe I'm flippin' awesome, so it must be true, even if Mom can do more in a day than I can do in a week.) 

So, on top of Claire's crying, we had my not-so-nice comments to deal with. "WHO GOT FROSTING ON THE FLOOR?  ANNE!!  YOU ARE 6 YEARS OLD!  WHY ARE YOU GETTING FROSTING EVERYWHERE?!"  That sounds ridiculous now, but at the time, it seemed like an incomprehensible outrage that a 6-yr-old would get icing all over while building a gingerbread house.  Then (when the kids were out of earshot) Jake asked what he could do to help.  "I don't know!  I just want to scream the F-word over and over again."  He suggested that I go somewhere and do that, but I didn't.  I knew from past experience it wouldn't help.

While I nursed Julia I tried to reason with myself.  "You have four healthy, beautiful children who are all alive and with you.  You have a good husband whom you love.  No one is going to care if your chicken noodle soup is disgusting because there will be plenty of other good food there, including your ├ęclair cake. Why can't you just be happy?"  Then some wise counsel about forgetting myself and serving others came to mind, which put me in an even worse mood, because I'd done nothing but serve others all day long.  GRRRRRR.

Whew, this is a long blog.  To wrap things up: we made it to the party, Claire and I both cheered up, we came home, and had a Merry Christmas the next day.

Conclusions: 1. Only make edible gingerbread houses.
2. Good food and pleasant company can do wonders for your mood.
3. Give good white elephant gifts more often (unless all guests are like Claire: she thought the roll of toilet paper she got was great).  The live goldfish given by one family made them extremely popular.  The Lady Godiva Chocolates box filled with carrot and celery sticks made us very unpopular.  Compounded with the unforgotten M&M bag filled with pinto beans that Jake gave last year, we may never be invited the Gingham's party again.

Quote of the Day

Claire: When I grow up, I have to have kids.

Me: I hope you do, Claire.  But not everyone gets to, so...

Claire: I have to!  The lifecycle has to go on!