Saturday, May 31, 2008

Choices, by Kyra

Kyra attended a Achievement Day activity a few weeks ago in which they discussed making choices. This occurred to me a few days ago after watching her make a series of good and bad choices. I tried to focus on the good ones as I helped her prepare for her final Achievement Day activity for this school year. We drove to her end of the year school party and discussed what she could write about and then she wrote the following essay the next day. The last paragraph was added after I encouraged her to write a conclusion about what she thought Heavenly Father would think of her choices. From Kyra:

May 22, 2008

Since the talk about choices I have had some. A week ago my mom had me decide to go to ta family reunion, or go to the Kids Kamp performance at my old school. I chose to go to the family reunion. It was a little hard to make that choice. Last weekend I went to a Girl Scout trip with my troop, and I went climbing on a rock wall. When I was near the top it was hard. I was going to go down but I kept going. I got a reward for getting to the top which was I got to go on the 40 foot tall zipline. There was no seat only the harness. It was so much fun!!!

I know that Heavenly Father wants us to try new things, and do things that are hard for us. Even when things are hard, with a little hlep we can do it. :) :)

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Sunscreen Report

Well, here's my full report on sunscreen. I've tried to put things in an order that make sense to me and hopefully you. If you really don't care about the research and just want the bottom line then skip down to the bottom where I summarize my decision (look for the italics). I outline some terms and ingredients just so we are all on the same page while trying to understand this.

Terms we should know and understand:

SPF. Sun Protection Factor. This rates the number of times longer that you can stay in the sun than if you were unprotected. IE: if your skin burns in 10 minutes in the sun and you apply a SPF 30, you can stay in the sun 300 minutes without burning. (that would be 10 x 30= 300) The higher the SPF, the longer you can stay in the sun, if the sunscreen is still on. Is a higher SPF really better? Do the math and determine if you are sweating the stuff off and/or swimming. Some sunscreens are better than others at staying on in the water. Would you really stay in the sun for over 4 hours without reapplying sunscreen? It seems like an SPF of 30 would be plenty, but SPF 45 seems to be pretty common and certainly wouldn't hurt.

UVB rays. These are the rays that burn. (B=burn) This is what the SPF rating is talking about, the UVB rays ONLY. Too much UVB and burning can lead to certain types of skin cancer. Currently, in the United States, to claim to be a sunscreen, your product only needs to block UVB rays. Many brands are choosing to include more protection...

UVA rays. These are the aging rays. (A=age) Most importantly, the UVA rays are the ones that can penetrate the skin and affect your cells directly. Not only do UVA rays cause harm by themselves, but it appears that they can push along the effects of the UVB. Europeans are demanding that their products contain some sort of UVA protection as well as UVB. Once again, the US is behind the times and it has to do with the FDA approval process. Regardless of the FDA, there are many brands that have ingredients that block UVA rays and it will probably say so on the package. I'll address this in the ingredients list below.

Ingredients to avoid:
Look in both the active and inactive ingredient list

Taken from (I added the bold because they were ingredients I recognized readily from my research)

• Benzophenone (benzophenone-3), homosalate, and octy-methoxycinnamate (octinoxate): These chemicals are of more concern because they have shown estrogenic activity in lab tests.
• Padimate-O and Parsol 1789 (2-ethylhexyl-4-dimethylaminobenzoic acid and avobenzone): These two chemicals have the potential to damage DNA when illuminated with sunlight. On the skin's surface, these chemicals do protect from UV damage; however, once absorbed into the skin, these same chemicals can prove destructive. According to this article, parabens can really mess with your hormones. I was excited to find several fairly inexpensive sunscreens until the list of inactive ingredients had up to 5 different parabens. Yikes! AND, one regular version didn't have any, but the baby formula had 3. One company's sensitive skin formula and baby formula had identical ingredients. Don't be fooled by marketing techniques!

Ingredients that actually do the job:

Avobenzone. Absorbs the UVA rays. This is listed above that there is the possible risk that once it reacts with the sun and is absorbed into the skin it can cause cell damage.

Oxybenzone. Absorbs the UVB rays.

Helioplex. Is really just a fancy name for the process of combining Avobenzone and Oxybenzone and making it chemically stable. Whether or not the 2 ingredients are stable without the heliplex technology is beyond my scope of understanding. There are several sunscreens available with both, but Neutrogena is the proud owner of the Helioplex technology.

The key to understanding the above ingredients is that they ABSORB the rays, they do not block them. They work through a chemical reaction with the sun rays to deflect or reflect the UVA and/or UVB rays. There are only 2 sun "blocks" that actually create a physical barrier between your skin and the ultraviolet rays.

The 2 true Sun "Blocks":

Titanium dioxide. The best I can tell from this site:

is that titanium dioxide is OK as long as it is not "micronized" or presented in a nanoparticle form (that would be less than 100nanometres). Basically, the smaller the particle, the easier it is to absorb in the skin, penetrate the cells, and possibly cause mutation and then cancer. This site uses titanium dioxide in their organic skin care products but has refused a number of requestst to use the micronized version. I have no idea how to determine the size of the particles being used in the different sunscreens on the market.

Zinc Oxide:
this is the same ingredient used in Desitin for diaper rash. The same nanoparticle concern is apparent for zinc oxide as was true for titanium dioxide. For me, this puts the 2 equally as potent (good and bad) on the ingredient list.

Here are the products:

(listed in no particular order)

Blue Lizard: Has the good stuff in varying degrees. The BabySPF30 has 10% zinc oxide and 5% titanium dioxide which is fabulous. At $9.95/5oz it is reasonable in price. It does contain parabens so I wouldn't use it on a continual basis, but might recommend it for a super day at the beach.

Burt's Bees: SPF30, 8.5% titanium dioxide. All natural ingredients, none of the above mentioned bad chemicals. $15 for 3.5 oz.

Mexitan: SPF 30, 6% titanium dioxide and 6%zinc oxide. All natural. Online/mail order only. $16.95 for 8 oz.

Neutrogena: Ultra Sheer Dry Touch SPF 55+. Helioplex technology is all I can find out on it via the internet. It bothers me that I can't get a list of other ingredients, even from their own website. This is number one on Consumer Reports as far as protection from UVA and UVB rays and for staying power. It is waterproof and sweatproof and paba-free. $8 for 3 oz.

No-Ad: 2% zinc oxide plus a host of other active ingredients. It has parabens and lists titanium dioxide in the inactive ingredients which makes things a bit confusing for me. I don't know why you would put it in the bottle if it wasn't going to be effective. Consumer Reports liked it for a budget buy, listing it right under Neutrogena because it doesn't stay on as long. At $11 for a 16 oz bottle however, I'd say keep reapplying!

UV Natural: a whopping 24.8% zinc oxide as it's only active ingredient puts this baby at the top of the "block" list. Vegan formula, SPF 30 for 4 hours of sun, and repels water for 40min. It also tops the list on price at $32 for a 4.4 oz bottle. There are several UV Natural products, but I can't get a list of ingredients so I don't know how the baby version compares and don't know about the inactive ingredients. I'll let you know if I stop by REI for a peek (and a sample application?). I'm thinking that this stuff is similar to the thick white stuff life guards wear.

So what will I be using?!
I have a bottle of Burt's Bees that I will be applying to Tasha before she leaves in the morning for a fun-filled day of camp activities. She will be indoors, outdoors, and possibly in water if she chooses to do so. It is too expensive for me to send to camp with her to be oozed out over the floor and smeared into the carpet so I have a small bottle of Coppertone that I will send "just in case" she/they find it necessary to reapply later in the day. It has oxtinoxate and probably parabens, but I don't think a few applications are going to kill her. When this runs out I may get some No-Ad since it has worked for me in the past.
I am definately going to check out Mexitan for future purchases since it seems to be good for us and eco-friendly. They currently have a $4.95 flat rate for shipping so if anyone else is interested please let me know so we can split that cost. Go to and tell me what you think.
For now I'm going to stay away from the super high-priced products. I'll also try to keep the kids in the shade as much as possible.

Something I did not address at all was the texture of the products. I believe that the "blocking" products are more difficult to rub in and thicker. That is what makes them good. Please give me your feedback as you try them so we all can know without wasting our all-mighty dollar. I worry that the newer zinc oxide and titanium dioxide products that are not as white as they used to be are easier to use because of the nano-technology which is bad for us.

Calling all writers

I found this site by sheer accident:

The UK bookstore, Waterstone's, is featuring a "What's your story?" contest for writers of all ages. Basically you can go to their website, create your story on what they call a story card, and submit it. There are over a thousand short stories in their gallery for you to browse through and enjoy. Check it out!

It is not available for viewing currently, but they have several authors submitting story cards for a fund-raising auction. JK Rowling and Doris Lessing are a couple of authors that have written for the auction. Rowlings wrote a 800 word prequel to the Harry Potter series, something I'm sure many of us will be interested to read. She did say it was fun to write but that it was nothing in the works.

There will be a book published with copies of the story cards. It will include the stories of 13 great authors along with 3 lucky winners from the public sector. (1 child and 2 adult entries) So, let me know when you enter so I can go check it out!

This one is for Justin

On the left: cardboard book titled "Goldeylock and the Three Bears. The Mistery" This is the book that will be used to solve the mystery.
Middle: clad in a green Good Will find faded butterfly shirt, ruffled purple and white striped skorts, white flowered leggings, pink ballet slippers, and a funky sparkly princess tiara is "Princess Pea". (played by Tasha)
Right (seated): sporting running shorts, bright orange shirt signed by her class, and roller-skate shoes that are 3 sizes too small is "Wonder Red". (played by Kyra)
In the background is the "Super Computer" (the TV) and another couple of books that will surely be used in future episodes of our living room version of Super Why.
As for myself, the kids named me "Super Why" so I better go to the rescue...and save "Alpha Pig" (the dog) from the wardrobe department.

Watching the news

Well, today was the one day of the year that I watched the morning news. It was by default, not planned or expected, and caught me completely off guard. I won't do it again, I promise. As my children whined about ridiculous things, I claimed, "you don't have a mother today, go away." I turned on the TV and found nothing but morning shows hiding behind the facade of reporting the news. (FYI: I had to look up the spelling of "facade" which has now replaced "choir" in my book of stupid words that don't follow any spelling rules).

I wait and wait to find out how they will help a real family save $225 each month. (OK, I didn't really wait if you consider channel surfing a sport) Then I get the history of the "real family" they are going to try to help. Oh, you poor sad middle-aged baby boomers with a son leaving for college and one in high school. Dad just retired after 30 years on the job (he's like 55). Mom is the sole bread winner and they can't pay for college outright. Oh no, you have a debt of $89 thousand...and that INCLUDES the house the car?! Need I say more?!! The advice is to take your lunch to work, skip the morning bagel, and don't eat out as much. Dad might need to go back to work if they want to send Junior to college without loans.

September 5th, for 1 WHOLE HOUR, the 3 major news stations will be banning together to "Stand Up to Cancer". During Prime Time, ABC, NBC, and CBS will broadcast the same report in an effort to bring people together to fund research for cancer. Yes, you heard that right, the whole point of this is to raise money for cancer research. I'm sorry I'm such a cynic but I'm sick of the fund raising for cures when we don't hear anything about prevention. It's all a big money game and that makes me crazy. I'm sorry that everyone that anyone knows is going to know someone in their immediate family that is affected by cancer, truly I am. My heart goes out to those who have lost loved ones and feel that loss on a daily basis. I'm just saying that maybe we should try to stop it instead of treating it. (Kind of like don't smoke to reduce your risk of lung cancer)

Food nutrition based on sugar only. What?! This guy rated foods on the amount of sugar in them, ONLY! He actually compared a box of Fruit-Loop looking cereal to of box of granola-with-blueberry cereal. The conclusion was that the granola had the same amount of sugar but way more calories and fat, so watch out. WHAT?! Let's not look at the chemical make-up of the ingredients or the nutritional value. I'm just really disturbed that some unsuspecting sole is going to think that they should eat Fruit-Loops as a diet food. No, I don't think they deserve it because they are stupid, I think that it was really bad journalism!

The Woodstock museum opened up in Bethal, New York. This was actually the best news I heard this morning, except that I had to listen to the annoying banter between the anchor of the show and the weather guy who was wearing a T-shirt with a peace sign on it. I never really thought about why Woodstock was where it was was, but I found out today. It was held on this guy's farm and he hosted it out of spite. That's AWESOME!!! Somebody had put up a hand-made sign that in effect said not to buy his milk because he supported hippies. HAH! He really showed them didn't he?! Man, I really wish I had been a part of the 60's...

And then there was the sunscreen report. I was about to turn the TV off at 9 when the next talk show (it actually was a talk show this time) said they had a report on sunscreen coming up. I was skeptical going in, especially because the report followed a segment on "Living Lohan", but was pleasantly surprised. The 3 panelists included: a woman from consumer reports; a female dermatologist; and a lady marketing analyst. Why all women? I'm not sure, but they were all blond and beautiful. No wrinkles. Bottom line: price is not everything; look for UVA protection; spray needs to be rubbed in; and reapply if you are out a long time, are sweating or swimming. They did not discuss any of the chemicals so I'm still not any further informed. I'm beginning to think that real knowledge in this area is just like everything else..."research shows" but we're not really sure. I'll get back to you with a full report soon. If you are going to the beach, right now and need to prevent getting the worst burn of you life, go with Neutrogena Ultra-Sheer Dry Touch, or a No-Ad SPF 45. I'm still trying to figure out the parabens and oxides, and working through the advertising schemes of "advanced technology".

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

The Sunscreen Dilema

There are few things that I know for sure about living in Arizona in the summer. I know that the sun shines a lot. I know that the sun can provide us with needed Vitamin K that can not be replicated with any vitamin. I know that many, many people are worried about the UVA and UVB rays that may damage your skin with too much sun exposure. I know that when you have light skin your chance to burn is greater than if your skin is dark. I know that when you have children everyone seems to be concerned about how you protect your child's skin and apparently it is their business. I also know that these concerned people really do care, and I love them(mom).

I don't know when I became aware of the dangers that may be present in lathering on the sunscreen. Maybe it was the year that I was becoming more aware of the toxins in our world and trying to understand the need for my 15 preschool children to have 15 different sunscreens with their names on them so that no child would put on another child's lotion. At the time, this seemed absurd. Now that I am more educated however, it is not so crazy. The amount of time, effort, and (soon to be) money that I am putting into what type of sunscreen I should use on Tasha (and myself) is astronomical! I've been gathering information, mainly from other moms, for 2 years, and now I have spent at least 2 hours on the Internet trying to distinguish the differences between all the many oxides. After all this studying I don't want anyone putting anything crazy on my kid unless her normally covered skin is going to be in the sun for an extended period of time during the worst hours of the day. Do I want to prevent a 3rd degree sunburn? Sure. Do I worry about a little pink? Nope. Will I freak out if someone puts sunscreen on her? Nope, I know they are just concerned.

So my biggest dilema has been trying to determine which compound in sunscreen is most effective at stopping the bad rays, while at the same time not promoting free radical production (whatever that means!) on the skin and bloodstream of my precious little 4 year old. I thought one very smart mom was onto something when she recommending titanium dioxide. So I researched it and found this article:

From this article I did a lot of linking, grabbed my ancient bottle of Coppertone, and did several more Google searches. I guess the titanium oxide isn't all it's cracked up to be, but who really knows?! It is pretty hard to find a sunscreen with ONLY zinc oxide as it's active ingredient. Even Burt's Bees has titanium oxide in it. Most will have one form or another of some sort of octinoxate,oxybenzone, ect. I did find one, UV Natural Sport with an SPF 30+. It is $30.80 for 4.4 oz. available at REI:

Or maybe here:

So what's a mom to do? The simplest answer would be to keep your kids and yourself out of the stinking sun, cover up, and stay in the shade. Of course that is easier said than done but maybe I'll have to try harder...

And in case you want to really read some crazy stuff here's an article about how sunscreens don't prevent cancer and how the estrogenic chemicals in some sunscreens are affecting gender traits:

Sunday, May 25, 2008

"What if you needed a helping hand? There are people all over the world who could use your help. They are injured, starving, suffering, and sick. What if we took action? Imagine yourself in their situation. Wouldn't you want a helping hand? What if we all lent a hand?" from Cherry, the designer (7-9th grader)

"What if the whole world lent a helping hand? There wouldn't be homeless people. Also, we'd all have equal rights. There would be angels, no devils, and only heroes. There would be peace on earth. That's what would happen if the whole world lent a helping hand. " from Hanna, the designer (4-6th grader).

Thursday, May 22, 2008

That's right baby...

It was a beautiful 78 degrees out today!
Rainy, windy, clean, fabulous weather.
My mom took Kyra and I out to lunch where we ate, huddled together, under a covering to protect us from the rain! This sure beats the 113 degrees that Amanda reported 3 days ago!
Enjoy it while it lasts...

Doodle 4 Google

I am beginning to think I have an obsession for Google. Go to Google, click on the logo to get all the background on this image, the contest, history, and see the guy behind the Google images. It's really pretty interesting and I have to say I'm hooked. I will be visiting Google every day to see what is new. They win! I'll also be posting some of my other favorites to force you to look at them.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


Say it with me, will ya?! Just like Arnie does on his commercials urging us to visit his fine state, "CAL-EE-forn-ya!" And what a fine state it is. Recently, "The 4-3 opinion written by Chief Justice Ronald George said domestic partnerships that provide many of the rights and benefits of matrimony are not enough." The court legalized gay marriage and the weddings could begin in as little as 30 days when their decision becomes final. The court reversed CA Proposition 22 that passed with 61% of the vote strenthening the state's marriage law stating that marriage was between one man and one woman. So far you may not be able to tell if I am reporting, outraged or thrilled at the decision, and for that, I am sorry. It means that I have not expressed my opinions on this issue, an issue that I think is at the core of teaching tolerance and acceptance. I try to understand the opposition to gay marriage, and I love and respect my friends and family that are morally opposed to it. As for me, I'm all for it and here's why:

Homosexuals have the right to be just as happy (or miserable?) as everyone else. Especially if that means entering a binding, legal, contract with someone they love and commit to each other for the rest of their life here on earth. I don't think the government has any right to take that away from any human being. It could be a federal issue, but I'll be content with a state decision. Well, I guess it is just a court decision, but one that the state's governor said he would uphold. This is the same state's Supreme court that reversed a decision banning interracial marriage. That was a long time ago, but not THAT long ago. Maybe this is why the decision is so scary to conservatives, but gives hope to so many others.

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints call homosexual tendencies to be "Same Sex Attraction" or SSA. I guess that term covers all the bases and makes it a little clearer as to what we are talking about. It also makes it a little more real to those of us that are attracted to the opposite sex. Aren't we talking about the same thing here really? You are naturally draw to someone, or several someones, for whatever reason: because of how they look, act, react, think, write, perform, talk, or whatever. I would not begin to try to understand all the vast reasons as to why couples get together. It is fun to hear their stories, but will I ever understand the reasons that my friends stay with their quirky spouses? All I can say is that people are attracted to other people for various reasons and it is not possible for me to surmise all the reasons for their attraction, be it SSA or not.

So I applaud the California Supreme Court for their decision to legalize gay marriage especially in a state that already "recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation." I am even further impressed that this a Republican-dominated court! (FYI: that is intended as a compliment, not a slam!)

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Tasha has been tagged

OK, so I thought it was pretty cute that Amanda's son John was tagged by a friend of hers. Then she tagged Tasha so I get to tell you 11 things about Tasha. I tried to think of things you might not know because I don't talk about them all the time...

1. Tasha can roll her r's. She sings this song from preschool that is in English first, then Spanish. "Los manos por detras" has the fanciest r's I've heard from a 4 year old white kid.

2. Tasha loves to swing. It is the most beautiful, peaceful thing I've ever seen her do. She can hop on, pump herself, and keep going for quite a while. Her hair flies behind her as she leans back and the swing goes forward, then back, then forward.

3. Tasha is healthy. Even in the womb she would not let me eat greasy fast food. Now, her fast food of choice is a baked-potato from Wendy's. She eats yogurt and oranges for snacks. Her big downfall is ice cream.

4. Tasha is not a morning kid. She doesn't like to get up and go, maybe because once she is going she doesn't stop. She likes to stretch out her waking-up, bed-stretching, pajama-wearing time as long as she can. She even makes cute little cooing noises when she wakes up that get increasingly louder until someone will come in and hug her little stretching body. It is quite sweet.

5. Tasha is not Monday kid. I don't remember the last Monday that she did not make me scoop her up and put her in the van to drive Kyra to school. She stays in her pj's, snuggles her blanket and has me carry her around since she doesn't have shoes on. When we get home she wants to lay around and watch TV all morning.

6. Tasha doesn't forget. If you tell her you will do something with her you better do it. The promise could be for the next time you see her (in a week, month...), but she will remember! I know we all say this about our kids, and I did about Kyra, but Tasha brings these things up on her own without the slightest bit of memory jogging.

7. Tasha is noise sensitive. This is ironic since she is so stinking loud. When I turn the music up too loud in the van it really makes her crazy, unless it it the right music. If I didn't know she could hear the whispers we try to do behind her back, I might think she had a hearing problem. Hmm, anyone know a good audiologist?! (actually, her hearing was just checked today)

8. Tasha is fast. Bill and I are pretty sure she could beat Kyra in a race. I think she can almost keep pace with Justin but they never did start at the same time the last time I watched them race.

9. Tasha is a picky eater, but she is usually willing to try things. She gets really excited when she can swallow whatever she tries. (You know, unlike getting it into her mouth and then spitting it out) If she doesn't want to try it, she won't. (Enough said?!) She will only eat meat when she needs it, it's a rare occasion, and then it is usually a lot.

10. Tasha can flip her tongue. She can't do it on cue, but I've seen it happen. This she gets from her mother, who can flip her tongue either way.

11. Tasha is a climber. Or a puller. Or a hoister. I don't know what to call it. Ever since she could manage her own weight (which was before she could really stand alone) she has been pulling herself up, using anything as a step-stool, and getting much higher than she could safely fall without damaging herself. Surprisingly, she has never broken anything (knock on the desk). Currently she has taken to hoisting herself onto countertops, leaning her body onto the top, and letting her feet dangle. You would think that would feel bad on the stomach, but she seems to like hanging there. Strange child. I let her do it at home, but she did it in public somewhere and freaked out some lady.

Now Tasha's mom wants to know 11 things about her CTR 6 class. So, let's hear from Jaxen, Elizabeth, and Jacob.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Moment in Time

One moment: I am sitting in a my comfy chair, laptop glaring in my eyes while I avoid cooking dinner to delve into the bizarre thoughts of a strangers monologue on abortion. Kyra is avoiding studying for a civil war exam next week and I have condoned her desire to flop in front of the television. Tasha is busily clicking away at the computer while she plays on

Another moment: I am sitting in the same chair, the CFL bulb is spotlighting the stitching I am doing to mend a pair of jeans that still has some life in them. Kyra is creating a matching game to study her vocabulary. Tasha sat down to draw a thank you card for my aunt in NY. All was quite in the house except for the whirring of the ceiling fan and the occasional shuffle of a few markers.
Bill and I joked at the first scene, mostly because he walked in on it(all the way from the bus stop) after a long day of work and I asked him to fix dinner so I could finish the article. Apparently I missed the day in school where they taught us how to be a good wife. I think I'm supposed to meet him at the door in my high heels, hair perfect, with a smile on my face, and lead him to his armchair where I remove his shoes, serve him a drink and let him unwind from his day. I hush the children, send them outside to play and finish the preparations for a glorious 3 coarse dinner. Whatever. Even the second scene doesn't lead us to this scenario. A little closer maybe, but we don't live in the "Leave it to Beaver" age anymore. I'm not sure what my point is other than we don't have to be stuck in the same place for more that a moment. I could look at the first scene and really be depressed because technology ruled our life. But it was only for that moment. Although the fictitious June Cleaver did follow her duties for the time as wife and mother, she did rely on Ward quite often for help with the boys, and they didn't get into half the trouble our kids do!

That being said, I do wish sometimes that I had a little more June Cleaver in me. It seems to come and go in spurts and I feel a spurt coming on, if I can just hang on for a little longer. I was thinking about this time last year when I was on a completely different path. I was looking at a very hectic June where I taught art from 8-1:30, then tutored using a uniquely designed group tutoring method from 2-5. It made for some very long days and 4 long weeks. I was all for it. The challenge, the money, the dedication to my students. Now what? I'm looking forward to teaching the art class and then I just want to go home and be with my kids. I have the opportunity to teach 10 more hours during the week, taking me away from my family for at least 15 hours total, and I simply don't want to do it. I suppose if it was a typical kid that I really thought I could help I might be more inclined to do it, but it's not. I'm not sure this little guy is ready for 2 hours a day of reading and comprehension instruction. Am I crazy to turn away this opportunity, especially when we need the money? Am I letting my family, especially Bill, down when I don't help provide for them? What is wrong with me? I guess the worst let down is the knowledge that I won't be June and keep this place running in perfect order.

Well, this certainly isn't the post I set out to write. I was actually congratulating myself on the fact that our family could shift from 2 such dramatically different scenes within a 24 hour period. More importantly, we did it willing and without provocation. The kids don't even know that I noticed this change in behavior. My point was that even when we have momentary lapses in what we consider a good use of time we can bounce back. Just because we want to protect the environment doesn't mean that we can't use a paper plate every once in while, or buy something new because it's pretty. Just because we want to expose our children to art and music doesn't mean that we can't enjoy a Disneyland vacation. I'm reading a book on a completely unrelated topic but the author talks about trusting your instincts and not letting your intellect talk you out of what you want to do. I think this applies in a lot of situations. "Don't worry, be happy." Especially when the worry is unprecedented. My 9 year old isn't going to fail a test because she turned on the TV for 30 minutes and my 4 year old isn't going to have social issues because she interacted with a computer. Now, if I could only get over that awful article that I read!

Oh, and for those of you who don't know the Cleaver are really missing out. Don't think I'm old enough to have caught the episodes live, the black and white re-runs ran on cable in my house and it was often times one of the few times my brother and I spent in the same room with each other. He was 8 years old than I was and we just didn't have that much in common. I don't know what he liked about the show other than Eddie Haskle being a manipulator, and Beaver being the biggest goof on the planet, but I thought Wally was HOT! Come to think of it, Eddie might have taught my brother a few too many things.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

All I know I learned from my mother

This is my mom:

I love her!
My mom gives me all kinds of articles to read that she has cut out of her magazines and newspapers. Few I read, some I toss, most are in a pile mentally labeled, "read these soon 'cuz mom thought of me when she read them". She left me one recently that was honoring mothers and everything they had taught their kids. My mom doesn't think that she's taught me much, but that's just plain silly. Here's what I've got:
I've learned to take care of myself through her example. As a single mother, she worked hard to support us. She didn't necessarily love her job, but it enabled her to take off when she needed to and provided us with sufficient funding to live. When I was in high school she decided to quit and apologized to me since she would not be able to afford all the things we had been used to. It didn't matter to me and I learned to work for what I needed. I really cherished the one pair of Guess jeans I owned.
I learned how to fulfill my callings to the best of my ability (again, through her example). Maybe it's just because we are converts, but we read the requirements in the church books when we are sustained to a new calling. She was or still is the magazine rep. for her ward. When she read what the calling entailed she found out that she was supposed to attend a certain meeting. When she went, the other people in attendance had no idea that it was part of her calling. They were happy to have her, and grateful that she was doing all she could. As the secretary in Primary, the rest of the (mothers-of-small-children) Presidency were overwhelmed by her generosity of time and treats. They hesitated when she wanted to give thank-you treats to the children that participated in sharing time until my mom said she would do all the preparations and purchase all the treats. That was the way she intended it to begin with; it was no big deal to her.
I learned that things don't have to be perfect to be good. My mom is anything but a perfectionist. I love that! If you make a cake and it flops, oh well, it still tastes good. This is how I feel about a clean house. Unfortunately, in her old age, she has become a little tidier than I. She is slow to point out my messiness, and even slower to pitch in and clean it up for me. (I think this jumps back to the "take care of yourself" clause). She has, on occasion hired a cleaning lady for me. Aaah, what a joy.
It's OK to break tradition. Although my mom has tried very hard to start traditions, I think she is doing it because she reads about what everyone else does. I wish that she would just realize that our non-traditional ways are even better than doing the same old thing time and time again. To this day, my favorite Thanksgiving was spent with just her and I. I was in high school and we had received several invitations to several different dinners. Knowing that I was overworked and under stress she asked me what I wanted to do. We took a tiny turkey or chicken to the park with some of Grandma's stuffing and relaxed under the shade of a tree. Notice that I don't even know for sure what we ate?!
I don't know if it is a personality trait or ability, or if assimilation is a learned behavior. Either way, my mom and I are pretty good at it. You could dump either of us off in just about any situation, country, gathering, etc. and we wouldn't act like bumbling fools. In fact, we would have a great time learning something new. She was much better at this before her hearing went out; now she smiles and nods a lot, relying on me to do the hearing.
I'm not afraid of change, I like new ideas, and appreciate forward thinking. At 60 years old my mom: got a computer; learned to use her email; and, with any luck, will be able to read this post when I send her the link. My mom is the queen of all the new ideas in Prevention magazine. She will eat blueberries because a new study says they have anti-oxidants. She will stop eating them because a newer study says they turn your skin blue. (Alright, I really don't have a good example of the crazy stuff she does...mostly because there is something new each week!) When I suggested she see a chiropractor she did. Now, she does a crazy hola dance when she gets out of her car because the chiropractor said it would help with her hip problems.
I LOVE popcorn. I could eat it for dinner. Ooops, I have. When it was just the 2 of us at home sometimes we would pop up a bunch and eat to our heart's content. Now that I'm a mom I realize what a relief it would be if my kids asked me to make them popcorn for dinner. I think I've suggested it, but only once have they fallen for it. Their loss.
Most of all, my mom will (hopefully) see this post as an honorable tribute to her! I've revealed things that could embarrass her, but she will smile gracefully and acknowledge that I am trying to be sweet. Isn't it enough that I walked down the street with her in the above outfit?! Please note that I did buy her a new sun-hat for Mother's Day.
Happy Mother's Day!

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Public Transit Anyone?!

I was on empty. Really empty. Ding, plus 30 miles in the van. No gas card that matches the gas stations on my route home. So I stop and put $10 cash in. That $10 kept me going until about the same time the next day. Ding. $10 more cash. This time, as I start the ignition (at the station)...Ding. That's right, $10 didn't even get me off empty this time.

This gas revelation ($10 of gas/day) hit the week after I returned from New York where a $20 Metro Card got me through the city for 3 days. Needless to say, I was depressed. But then I started adding up what it would have cost to take my daily trips IF the bus or subway were to go to the places I needed to go. $2 to Kyra's school+ $2 to get home+ $2 to Tasha's school+ $2 to go tutor(and pick up Kyra)+ $2 back to pick up Tasha+ $2 back home= $12. I guess it's about the same, but then you have to consider that was just me. When you add the cost of more people the commute gets more expensive, whereas the van holds several people for the same gas price. At least Bill gets his bus pass compliments of University of Phoenix. He's also upped his "Don't drive 1 in 5" to about 3-4 in 5. C-O-O-L.

On another note, Bill and I were checking out the CNG Honda Civic via the internet. Jay Leno had a video on that really made it look good. I wish I could link the video and the subsequent article that we found. All we could say is why are we still driving around in these dirty gas guzzlers? Bill said Detroit. I said Republicans. Maybe we'll go check it out in person and do a whole post on it.

ESPN, really?!

What the heck? Are you not all completely sick of hearing me complain about sports?! After my last rage, that I regretfully made quite vocal to quite a few people, my husband has been very good. He got the silent treatment for a couple of days, outraged ranting, was forced to apologize for his atrocious behavior (which, of course didn't mean anything), and then was forgiven. How did he finally receive remission for his sin? He squished a cockroach. Yep, la cucaracha was his saving grace at 2 in the morning. I had gone to the bathroom, trapped the little monster under the bathmat, and then promptly went to wake him up. He woke, squished, flushed, and went back to bed to have no recollection of the incident the following day. I gave him credit anyway, and life at the Durrenberger house went back to normal.

So why? Why oh why oh why? Why, when Bill goes to bed does he leave the TV on ESPN? Maybe it was to give me a good title for this post. I had written everything below these top two paragraphs before I realized that the stupid sports channel was even on. I was typing, he was flipping, and life was a typical pre-bed ritual. But then he kissed me goodnight and I was trying to think of something to put in the title box. Duh-nuh-nuh, duh-nuh-nuh! Stupid Sports Center! I hate you for invading my brain with stats, replays, and summaries. Blah. Well, at least I figured out what to put in the title box, and now back to my regularly scheduled blog...

I drive north on Hardy almost every weekday. I always ckeck out a few houses that have particularly nice gardens. There is also a house that added on in the back and I've always wanted to check it out. Recently, I noticed that they have solar panels. I asked myself, am I just now realizing all the great environmentalists that we have in Tempe? Apparently not, they just added them 3 weeks ago. I knocked on the door and asked them about them...oh, just kidding. I asked April, "Hey, did you see that house on Hardy that has all the solar panels?" She gives me that ridiculous look like I'm a moron (that would be her word, not directed at me) and says, "You mean Ryan's parents house? Where do you think they got the idea?"

Poor April. Everyone keeps stealing her thunder. Rachel is the queen of EC. Ryan's parents have now exceeded their solar power. Kyra got into Desert Marigold before Justin did. Cloth diapers, home birth, nursing toddlers, cloth napkins, line-drying clothes... Alright, I'm probably giving her a little more credit than she deserves, but I've also probably forgot some stuff too. Oooh, like did I know about bloggin' before April?! Nope. And let's face it, I'm WAY more interesting than she is. Well, at least I keep my female problems to myself.

So my question to you is this: What fabulously crazy ideas out there did I forget that sprouted from the Sauer household? I feel an "Ode to April" coming on, but I need some more input. Please add your thoughts so I can compile a complete list. Of course, the wackier the better!

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

More kids?!

Besides the fact that Bill is terrified about having another girl, here are my thoughts:

1. I hate being pregnant. Nothing about it is pleasant for me. I am big enough already and the extra 30-50 pounds gained is certainly not a nice experience. Puking, nausea, itching, tiredness, bursts of hormones, depression, anger, elation, puking, nausea...the list goes on and on and around and around. I'm sorry to those that can't get pregnant, and envy those that can and happily carry around that child without any symptoms. My understanding is that bad pregnancy = easy labor/delivery and vice versus. This is true for me and I have been blessed with 2 uncomplicated deliveries. It still takes me a long time to psych myself into getting pregnant again.

2. I really enjoy all the stages of early childhood. I think I fear missing part of it while taking care of another infant or toddler. I know this is insane, but my thought none the less.

3. I might have a one-track mind. I can't really seem to keep one child occupied while helping the other. It makes my brain crazy and I usually end up yelling at someone. This could be because they are 5 years apart in age and completely different personalities, but it could be that I just stink at juggling the needs of 2 children.

4. Tasha moves too much. She can't be still and this makes me crazy. If I was holding an infant and/or trying to nurse I would have to banish Tasha from the room. Hmmm, I don't think this would be good for sibling bonding, would it?

5. All my friends seem to have some really stinkin' cute infants and toddlers. I'm pretty content playing with them and returning them when they are hungry, cranky, and poopy. Come to think of it, I was really good at being and aunt. Maybe I should have stuck to that.

La, la. Maybe now I should make a list of why we should have more?!

Our Desert Bloom

I have been overwhelmed by the beauty present in the gardens of our friends. You have posted fabulous shots of your sprouting buds, plentiful tomatoes, and berry-faced children. Here's what we have:

A home for some birds and some flowering blossoms.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

"What spells this?"

I have determined that it is physically impossible for Tasha to be still unless she is sound asleep. Even then, as Bill will attest, she is not always as still as one would hope. It is agonizing to try to sit at the dinner table with her bopping up and down (restaurant seats are ideal for this), leaving to get something, putting her feet all over the place (including her sister), and standing on her chair to reach something that she needs. I love the energy she has, but it just wears me out sometimes to watch her.

Car rides are no exception to this sitting still rule. As a result, Tasha has come up with some of her own games to play in the car: "The knock-knock game" where we all take turns telling ridiculously lame jokes; "The raise your hand game" where we all take turns asking people to raise their hand if...(you have on blue, like dogs, etc.); "hide and seek" (I have no idea how they play this one, but it creates a boat load of giggles; and "The Spelling game". Again, this is my 4-year old making up these games to keep herself occupied, but they do require the willing participation of the other occupants of the vehicle. Sometimes, at 8 in the morning, I just don't have the energy. Today, at 11, I did. This was the result...

When you play "The Spelling Game" you each take turns spelling words and the other one tries to guess what you have spelled. Lately Tasha has enjoyed inventing words and using her Leap Pad to spell them out. The Leap Pad is helpful to me because I can tell her that the word needs a vowel and that the vowels are all the red letters. Boy, Leap was really thinking on that one! It is just plain hilarious when Tasha pipes up and says, "what spells this?" I don't know where she gets some of her expressions but she cracks me up. Today she asked me how to spell ball. We went through the letters, she punched them out on the pad, and then she tried to make another word. D-A-L. Well, without the extra L it doesn't really rhyme with ball now does it? But with the extra L then it sounds exactly like DOLL. What the heck?! ALL BALL CALL (DOLL) FALL HALL MALL (PAUL) STALL TALL WALL. Try to explain that one to a preschooler. I have no idea if she was trying to spell DOLL to rhyme with BALL or not, but I do know that she discovered that KIM rhymes with TIM. Who is this child?! Kyra had such a different approach to learning that Tasha is throwing me for a loop. At least this loop is a fun one that I can keep up with!

Monday, May 5, 2008

My Heart Lies in NY City!

(Monday, April 28th 2008 from the plane leaving JFK)

As I sit confined in the Boeing 747, or whatever aircraft this may be, I look out over the tarmac and contemplate the journey ahead of me, as well as the one I just took. There are 45 planes ahead of us in line for take-off so I pick up my book while the boy next to me digs out his M&M's and enters the realm of the video age. After endless subway trips and being subject to the unwanted music blaring from the ears of my fellow passengers, I find it ironic that the book small enough to fit into my purse is Farenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Burning books, fireproof houses, TV's spanning the whole wall covering 1-2-3, even 4 walls if you are lucky! (If you haven't read it lately, do!)

What can I tell of my great NYCity adventure? Would anyone consider it anything grand? Who appreciates New York like I do? Not that there aren't a million people or more that think it is the most wonderful place in America, but how do I explain why I love it? Can I put into words how my heart longs to be in a place that is home to so many?

Then it comes. Just as the pilot prepares us for take-off. The reason my heart aches for this city: I have family there. One lone aunt left to keep a part of my father alive. As I think about that, a tear leaks out of the corner of my eye. The last person I know that ties me to my Greek heritage. The same person that tries so hard to keep me and her feelings at bay. I think of knowing her, understanding her life and the life of her family, and the anguish builds up in my chest. The tears start to flow as the plane gains speed. The rain on the wings of the plane and the 2nd window pane make long streaks now, just as my cheeks are becoming streaked with salt water. I try to gain composure as I exhale deeply, thankful that the 5-year old next to me has fallen asleep. I wipe at the tears, sniffle, shift in my seat and try to think of the next time. I've never made it to New York without visiting my Kokaliares family; only this time there is only one. Her brother has long since left this earth, and her sister just recently. I know her heart aches for them and I might just be an unwelcome reminder of that. In fact, she points out that my hands and feet are identical to my father's, as well as the way I scratch my forearms at some invisible rash no one else can sense. Isn't it just easier to shut out this reality? Isn't it easier to shut out the quality of life, the time to contemplate and think, and sit back and do nothing? It is easier, but does it make you happy?

Now we are airborne and the cold, blank, white clouds seem to shut down the feelings. Then comes the harsh voice and mechanical images flip down from overhead:, headphones, place your skymall purchase now and earn more rewards. Oh yes, catch them while they have nothing more to do, nothing to do but dream and shop for the things they don't have, don't need, and didn't know existed before being trapped in a moving shopping mall for 5 hours. It's just as Bradbury writes: if you cut off the quality of information and stop taking the time to think about things, you can stop feeling the pain and need to act. But isn't this very need to write down my thoughts an action?! (Yes, I actually took pen to paper instead of fingers to a keyboard!)

I fall for it anyway. I hand over my $5 so I can tune into 'the family'. I'll be back after this short 2 hour presentation by 20th Century Fox. Meryl Streep and Anne Hathaway bring us "The Devil Wears Prada", keeping the vision of the city alive in my eyes. But I can only get myself to tune in on one ear, the ear closest to the boy who is now awake, zooming his 5 cars all around his tray table. Ding, music stops, clank, clank, and the credits are over...

So, don't ask me about the wonders of New York. Not about the things you find within the NYCity Guide: the Statue of Liberty; the Empire State Building; Central Park; Wall Street; Yankee Stadium; the World Trade Center; Greenwich Village; Grand Central Station; Rockefeller Center; Lincoln Center; Radio City Music Hall; Ellis Island; Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. I have been to all those palces, but that is not why part of my heart lives in NY City. I have family there. I have friends there. I can think there. I can hear the loud words of the silent minority. Whether it is because I am on a vacation far from the realities of my regular life, or because of the brilliance of this fabulous city, I may not ever know. But, until next time...