Tuesday, September 30, 2008

FHE: 7 down, 47 to go

Family Home Evening was postponed last night because I needed to go work with a student. We held it this (Tuesday) evening. That's all I'm really going to say about it. Bill has a much better perspective so harass him about it. Let's just say that my final retort went something like,

"Well ya, that's a great idea...let's have an opening prayer followed immediately by a closing prayer and if that goes well we'll call it a great night. We can do the lesson before we open and have the treat after we pray. It won't matter if things are crazy because the official FHE was only during the prayer times!"

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Handwork is my Thing

I joined the parent's handwork group at Kyra's new school. I had no idea what to expect, no idea what our projects would be, or what crazy Waldorfy parents would be there to socialize with. I was pleasantly surprised on all counts.

A few days before the first meeting April and I were chatting. She mentioned that she wanted to go to handworks but wasn't sure if she could make it all the time. Now I knew one person, yay me! After I got there and we started our project another parent came up to me. She was a friend of a friend that I hadn't seen for probably 5 or more years. When Kyra was 3 or 4 we used to hang out at Peter Piper Pizza with several other moms while our kids ran around pretending to play the games. (they were all young and we were too cheap to give them money) Two friends now, double yay.

Then there was the project. Sewing small pieces of felt together to create a dragon. I kept calling it a dinosaur (what do I know, I have girls!), but it was the simple act of hand stitching that was so delightful. It brought back memories of junior high when I used to make little bears and create silly clothes for them. I even made a wedding dress and tux for a pair of bears to sit on my mom's wedding cake. I know, I know, BIG NERD!

The final project, a dragon family to be donated to the school store

A close up of the first 2 dragons. Oooh, aah.

Super soft crochet blankets for my nephew's baby girl. The one on the left was the number of stitches it was supposed to take (apparently I'm a little uptight, it was about 1/3 the size it was supposed to be), the one on the right is the final project, folded in quarters. Thanks to Bridget for the super easy pattern and the inspiration for these babies!

Dragon inspired baby toys that I gave at another baby shower. The Waldorf parents gasped at the idea of using bright red, white and black colors for these toys. (muted pastels made from vegetable dyed wool felt are the Waldorf way) Oh well, they were stinking fun to make!
So, for my husband who thinks I sit around all morning eating bon-bons and watching soap operas, here are the fruits of my labors. I am also almost finished with another table runner for my mom, did some more stitching on a friends quilt, and am waiting further instruction on how to finish an oversized washcloth (apparently I'm not an uptight knitter). Maybe I should fix that hole in Bill's pants.
April once told her sister that she liked "homemaking Helena". The part of me that stays home and bakes bread and can hang out and chat. She's OK I think, but I like "handwork Helena" a little bit better. She can sit and chat while she does her handwork. Invite her over sometime.

I need some Brandon time

Tasha is obsessed with babies. She loves to hold them, play with them, talk to them, and did I say hold them?! The poor kid doesn't get to touch the ground. She also loves to carry him around which is completely nerve racking. I don't even think Tasha weighs twice as much as Brandon, but she will try to haul him around, hoist him up, and carry him to his mom. She is very wobbly when she does this. In this particular picture Tasha is helping Brandon suck on his toe.
The problem with this little obsession of Tasha's is that I don't get any time to see this little man. Tasha is always in my face and asking, "can I hold him?" Argh, back off kid! Last night Tasha was distracted for a few moments by another friend so I got to chat with Brandon for a while all by myself. I'm not sure, but when I took him from Crystal and I smiled at him he smiled back. I gave him a little kiss on the cheek with a little "hi Brandon" and I got the cheese-faced-wonder of a baby smile. It was the one that said, "hey, I know you...and you're OK." He melted my heart and hung out with me for several snuggly-baby-drooly minutes of glee.
Now my problem is that I miss that little guy. All day I was thinking, "I need a little Brandon time."

Feng Shui THIS baby!

This is the end table right next to my "reading chair".
Hmm, what am I reading?!
(man, that's embarassing...did I really take a picture?!)
If in the Feng Shui world this chaos represents some part of my life, what part is it and therefore, what part of my is this chaotic? The biggest problem is that this particular room has 3 entryways so the table is actually in 3 different Feng Shui locations. In order of most used doorways to least here is where the chaos is:
1. front right corner
2. back right corner
3. back left corner
So, would some Feng Shui expert let me know which aspect of my life USED to be messed up so I can watch for the fabulous changes. I cleaned it up last Friday. It's still got a lot of literature, but it's dusted, stacked, neat, and organized.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

These are a few of her Favorite Things...

To April, on her birthday...

I love ya girl!!!

Raindrops on roses and vines of sunflowers
Nursing her children through all daylight hours
Brown paper packages tied up with strings
These are a few of her favorite things...

"Fookies" and "fuffins" and gluten-free streudels
Chicken soup made with her fresh homemade noodles
Waldorf inspired to fly high with her wings
These are a few of her favorite things...

Compost to save the earth turning to ashes
Hair to the birds and also her eyelashes
Movie quotes, Potter fan, therapist phone rings
These are a few of her favorite things...

When the babe cries
When the bee stings
When she's feeling sad
She simply remembers her favorite things
And then she don't feel so bad

Roses...hmmm flowers...
Nursing...all hours
La dee da, la dee da,
La dee da da
These are a few of her favorite things...

When the babe cries
When the bee stings
When she's feeling sad
She simply remembers her favorite things...

And then she don't feel so bad...

Monday, September 22, 2008

Happy First Day of Fall!

Where exactly do we find leaves like this?

Oh wait, a friend made me some sugar cookies this weekend (that were delish!) and they looked like that. It must be a cookie thing.

Why would google put cookies on their image to talk about fall?

Anyone catching the sarcasm here? We don't have fall! We suddenly have "not so hot anymore" and then it's Thanksgiving and Christmas. While other parents are putting leggings on their little ballerinas at Halloween to make sure they don't get cold, we have to give our Power Ranger short sleeves so he doesn't die from heat stroke. (true story)

Seriously though, I went to see Fall once. Bill and I were in a wedding (that we spent more on in clothing, airfare, hotels, ect. than we did on our own wedding) in Vermont many years ago. The leaves had barely begun to turn colors and some were falling to the ground. I was giddy with delight as I gathered as many as I thought I could haul back to Arizona. (Yes, the Vermont-ites thought I was nuts. What do you can someone from Vermont?) Anyway, I brought the leaves home, dried them and then laminated them so I could post them on my Kindergarten bulletin board instead of die-cut construction paper red, orange and yellow leaves. Oooh. Aaah.

Ha. Ha. "I went to see Fall once." I made a funny.

FHE: 6 down, 48 to go

Well, I have to say that I might not have been dedicated enough to make this FHE thing happen tonight if it were not for this blog, 5 weeks down, and children that ask, "is it Family Home Evening night?" every night. (OK, that's just Tasha asking , but Kyra always smiles when she says it) I really need to be more positive. I know the disappointing times are because of me and my attitude, frustrations, and annoyances.

This morning over breakfast (cold cereal and milk) I asked Tasha what she wanted to teach for FHE since it was her turn to give the lesson. She asked what Dad taught last week because she wanted to be different. Then she said, "how about being good." Hmm I thought to myself. "What do you want to say about being good?" Then she gets that little sly head tilt and weird smile and says in a much too sweet voice for anyone to believe, "be nice...help...be good." Where is she getting this stuff from? The bus came and off she went to preschool.

In between trying to schedule a student, phone calls and visits to the hospital, and making dinner to take to a family, I managed to visit LDS.org and find the closest thing to being good I could find. It was perfect because it was a game and it was all about the good things you could do at home to help be a happy family. Tasha colored it in. We played it. She put the pieces away when we were done (while I waited quite impatiently because we still needed to say the closing prayer and have the treats dad made us and it was 7:20 and the kids are usually in bed and I'm reading to them by now...) and I had her close with her testimony. Well, it was something to the effect of "I know we can be good and make our family happy. I say these things..." (and she picked up on how she should close right away.) She was quite proud. I was quite stubborn. What a rotten mom. Hmm, maybe someone else should lead this family in FHE.

Anyway, the day is almost over now. My mom is back home and on some happy drugs to make the pain go away until she passes a 4mm kidney stone. She's sipping on Pepsi even though I bought her lemons, juiced them and made her a fine lemon water drink that is supposed to help with the pain. I'll forgive her though since she puked up the lemon water and the Pepsi stays down. Now I wonder if I should even bother juicing the apples. I've got a load of laundry in the washing machine because the puppy decided to pee on Tasha's bed this morning for no apparent reason. Tasha's asleep on our bed. Kyra is hopefully asleep on her bed. I've taken a shower and feel a little bit more human.

But, la la. Tuesday is Temple day...

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Education...the New Hope!

Everyone start singing the Star Wars theme with me will ya? Du-duuu, du-du-du-duuuu-du, du-du-du-duuuu-du, du-du-du-duuuuu. In a city far, far away a man has come up with a plan to save the youth of Harlem. He's raised money, bribed children, and forced teachers to do their jobs. He is Geoffrey Canada, and he's my candidate for Supreme Chancellor of Education.

I want to stay positive here and say that there is this man, doing something real, in a small area in Harlem...and it's WORKING. Scott wrote a post in which he gives many a link to a story about Mr. Canada and all that he is doing to boost the education of these inner-city children. I gives me hope that we can see what works and what doesn't work. CBS news has the report on the Harlem Kids Zone. I am not going to point out what I don't like and what potentially could be and is bad about the program. What I am going to do is point out a few things I think is making it work:

1. Parents are involved. There are classes to teach parents how to parent, even while the child is still in the womb. Classes that teach that you don't need to yell at or beat your children and you can still get them to behave.

2. There is a lottery to get in and many kids don't get in. Once you get in, you need to stay in. Kids aren't going to mess with that because of point number 1.

3. They have funding. Part of it is from the govt. (which is available to all charter schools), and more of it comes from private donations.

4. It is in a very isolated area (something like an 80 block radius).

5. They are free to educate, spend money, discipline, and teach in the way that THEY choose to do it, not the way the government tells them to or parents insist on them doing it. This goes back to number 2 and number 1. If, as a parent or child, you disagree with the school you are free to leave at any time. There are plenty of other willing participants ready to take your place. In a public school setting, many educators and administrators are overrun by parents and parent groups who end up running the school. Because the principal does not have the ability to tell the family to leave, the school ends up adapting to the students needs. If you look at that from a special education stand point it is a good thing, if you look at it from a mouthy discipline case of a kid, it is a bad thing. (Obviously, I am choosing the later mouthy kid when I say that this program is working. I'm not sure how Sp.Ed works in the Zone.)

6. Teachers have to do their jobs. Mr. Canada has fired 10 times the number of teachers that would typically have been let go. He expects them to help the children succeed and excel to the best of their abilities. He expects teachers to work until 6pm at night if needed. By golly, he wants teachers to teach. Interesting. (I can name at least 3 other people reading this blog that would be teaching right now if they didn't have children. They know that it takes this kind of commitment to teach and quite frankly, you can't do the job if you want to raise a family too.)

Like I said, the plan is not fool-proof and it certainly can't be spread across the globe, but I wanted to let you all know I have hope. After all my totally negative education posts I thought I should fill you in on the good that is out there. There are some great public schools, principals, and teachers floating around and there are people making a difference. If you haven't read the article, go READ IT!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Dear Sweetsurprise.com

I thank you for your recent advertisements promoting your product, high-fructose-corn-syrup (HFCS). I have seen 2 different ads now where the person that questions the use of HFCS has been at a complete loss of words when confronted by a proponent of your product. These people have only heard that HFCS is bad for you and have no idea how to defend their position. They are then told about this natural product that you promote as being the same as sugar. Your website even does a pretty good job at finding similarities between HFCS, sugar, and honey. Again, I thank you for your television commercials to get me to further research your product, solidify my opinion, and realize why it is BAD, BAD, BAD.
On your website you state that HFCS is digested the same as sugar and honey, but the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition says this: "Fructose is absorbed primarily in the jejunum before metabolism in the liver. Fructose is converted to fatty acids by the liver at a greater rate than is glucose.14 When consumed in excess of dietary glucose, the liver cannot convert all of the excess fructose in the system and it may be malabsorbed." (You can find the quote here) The study you quote suggesting the same digestive process, was conducted on "lean women" and was for the purpose of studying the effects of HFCS and sucrose consumption on appetite in normal-weight women, not whether or not the products are digested the same. There is a theory out there stating that the liver converts fructose into fat quicker than it would sucrose. If you look at that statement by the American Journal again, it sounds like a pretty good theory.
Now let's take a look at the environmental effect your not-so-fabulous product has on our precious earth. The Washington Journal gave me this quote: "The environmental footprint of HFCS is deep and wide," writes Pollan, a prominent critic of industrial agriculture. "Look no farther than the dead zone in the Gulf (of Mexico)...where virtually nothing will live because it has been starved of oxygen by the fertilizer runoff coming down the Mississippi from the Corn Belt. Then there is the atrazine in the water in farm country -- a nasty herbicide that, at concentrations as little as 0.1 part per billion, has been shown to turn male frogs into hermaphrodites." (That would be a little boy frog with both male and female reproductive organs. Hmm.)
The part I liked best on your website was how you explain the "natural" process by which honey, sugar, and HFCS are manufactured. I didn't even try to understand the manufacturing of any of these products. I assume that if you can confuse a reader by stating, "a small amount of the glucose is converted into gluconic acid and hydrogen peroxide by the enzyme glucose oxidase, which preserves the mixture," then you can probably simplify the process by which HFCS is made. In case you (or anyone else) didn't understand that statement, it is part of the the "manufacturing process" that bees go through while making our honey. Really?
I try to buy American when I can, but nothing you say is going to convince me that this American product is better for me than anything we import. Yes, sugar beets are grown in foreign countries and the sugar does need to be imported. Not all of it, but some. You say on your sight (under "sweeteners at a glance") that most honey is now imported from China. I would really, really, really like to know where you get this statistic. I read labels and I don't ever recall seeing Chinese honey. Seriously, I always look for honey made in Arizona because it is supposed to help with my allergies. Today I purchased a 6 pound jug of Crockett honey from Costco ($9.99). Not only was it made in the good old USA, it was packaged right here in Tempe Arizona. Chinese honey! That just sounds funny. (no offense to the Chinese)
I recognize that it was the Corn Refiners Assn. that launched this great big campaign to defend HFCS. It was also the Corn Refiners Assn. that started the Internet site. And, the Corn Refiners Assn. are the ONLY people popping up on the first page of sites when you google "high fructose corn syrup" that has anything positive to say about HFCS. I further recognize that the reason people know about http://www.sweetsurprises.com/ is because the Corn Refiners Assn. has paid for advertising to defend and sell their product. Whose information am I going to believe? Should I believe the people selling me a product, or all the other people, researchers, dieticians, reporters, and scientists who debate the quality of your product? I'm going with the later, not the salesmen.
I am still a little confused on what exactly I will say if I am attacked by one of your HFCS supporters, but I am grateful for the opportunity I have to study a little bit more about your product. I am now, more than ever, excited to scan the shelves to avoid your product. Thank you for renewing my efforts. I'll close with this yummy statement From Mother Linda, "Consumers trying to avoid genetically modified foods should avoid HFCS. It is almost certainly made from genetically modified corn and then it is processed with genetically modified enzymes. I've seen some estimates claiming that virtually everything--almost 80 percent--of what we eat today has been genetically modified at some point. Since the use of HFCS is so prevalent in processed foods, those figures may be right."
P.S. Don't get me wrong, I'm not banning your product, just trying really hard to avoid it. Heck, I love me a good Coke every once in a while. (Maybe I'll look for some of the few imported bottles that are made with real cane sugar!)

Because I couldn't sleep...

It was 6 years ago that I was tutoring at a private school in Paradise Valley. I had just finished with a student, the door to the room I worked in was open (it was one of those nice fall days), and it was lunch time. One of Kyra's kindergarten classmates, we'll call her Marie, ran inside to ask me a question I will never forget:

"Do you need a man and a lady to get married?"

"Yes," I replied, absentmindedly.

She ran off and out the door to continue her lunch. I heated up my lunch in the microwave and wondered what ceremony would be performed between which children during this recess break. There had already been several "weddings" on campus, none of which my child had been in thankfully! There were several girls obsessed with such things, and apparently a few boys willing to fall victim to their scam. It wasn't until moments later that I became concerned.

When Marie ran off she sat down next to Kyra and a few more children. They continued to chat until they were finished eating and went off the play. One girl remained, we'll call her Lucy. At this point in the school year I did not know many of the children or their parents very well at all, but I did recognize Lucy as the girl with 2 moms. She sat alone. She was five.

I walked over to the table that Lucy sat at, squeezed onto the bench beside her and asked how she was doing. I got a shrug and a smile and then asked,

"Are your parents married?"

"Yes," came the timid reply.

"That's pretty special," I said as I put my arm around her. I said a few more things that I really don't remember but Lucy packed up her lunch and seemed to be a bit happier when she trotted off to swing.

I will never forget that day or that little girl. She's not so little anymore and she became one of Kyra's best friends at her old school. It is this friendship and the friendship of her parents that I miss most of all. I would trust Kyra's life to either one of her moms and I can only say that about a handful of people I know outside of the Church. I am a better person having met them. I am a more humble person having had this experience. I am a more compassionate person knowing that I can have an impact on the way people feel about themselves. I don't have all the answers, but I have the answer for me. My answers lie with the children.

Monday, September 15, 2008

More on Education...

First, a blog-o-sphere apology to Scott whom I attacked with my title, "don't mess with me on education". It wasn't directed at him, but in retrospect it really was and wasn't intended to be an attack. I said it in person (or telephone), but here it is again in writing... Sorry Scott! Next, this is for Rachel, way off in New York City-land. Totally my very skeptical opinion on what the federal government can and can't do for education. In a nutshell I really don't think they can do anything because everyone cares about it, but nobody will fund it. McCain wants to reallocate the already skimpy existing funds, Obama wants to increase funds that were hard to get in the first place. Sadly, I see this as a lose-lose debate.

Let's start with No Child Left Behind. Do I really want to start here? Yes, because neither candidate will outright say it was a bad idea. Why? Because it's not a bad IDEA, just a bad plan. Teachers are stressing out to become "highly qualified". Yes, fabulous teachers, with incredible insight, a lot of experience, and excelling students are not qualified to teach our children because they don't have the endorsement that the Federal Govt. wants them to have. I actually received a letter from my child's preschool teacher informing me that she was not highly qualified but was working on it. (I promptly made her a certificate, had Tasha sign it, and rolled it up like a scroll to send to school.) Another teacher at her school actually quit because of it. Then, in order to track whether or not the students are not being left behind, we must test them. Don't even get me started on tests that can't really tell you what a child knows other than how well they take a test. In regards to NCLB McCain wants to focus on standards and accountability, Obama wants to fund it. They agree that children should be treated as individuals and reach their potential.

Teachers need to be able to teach. Obama's plan to "Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America's Teachers" is just hard on the stomach. Paying teachers to mentor new teachers is insulting to both the new and experienced teacher. Any good teacher is happy to share his/her knowledge with a newbie. Any teacher doing it for the money shouldn't be doing it and is doing a disservice to the other teacher. Yes, I think it's a great IDEA but there are too many pitfalls. Pitfall is also the way to describe what will happen if you reward teachers for doing a good job. I totally agree that better teachers should be payed more, but there is seriously no way to make a fair assessment, especially when you have 30+ individual students per classroom as variables. Also, hiring math graduates to teach isn't exactly a good idea. They are qualified in the subject matter, but teaching is a whole different ball game.

Relocating quality teachers to under performing and high need schools is a tough subject. I have no experience in this (maybe Rachel does) and no really good suggestions. Both candidates have plans that seem reasonable but I am always the skeptic. If you fix one school with one group of teachers and then their 4 year service is up or they transfer to another high need district, what happens to that school? I believe that teachers from Teach for America and other groups that supply highly motivated candidates are good for schools. I also believe that most of the Teach for America teachers are serving their 4 years and then running for office. Does that really matter? It suppose that depends. Was their focus on giving students the confidence they need to succeed in life, or getting statistical results that they could put on their resume? What happened to these classes and schools once they left?

I LOVE that McCain wants to give federal funds to the school principals, not the state or district. The spending is to be used to improve student achievement and that is different in every school and classroom. Yes, this has it's pitfalls too... not every school principal will do the right thing and inevitably they will be bombarded with sales pitches from every newest-technological-advantage-gizmo that there is on the market. With a good system of checks and balances though, I find this plan much better than every school getting 100 new computers because IBM gave them a really good deal.

I LOVE that Obama wants to make college more affordable to everyone and make applying for financial aid easier. WooHoo!

My concerns on the Obama plan. (In addition to the above funding for all college students)He wants to: Quadruple Early Head Start funding; Fund No Child Left Behind; Double funds for after school programs; and fund schools to prevent high drop-out rates. Where are we going to get all this money? Everyone cares about education, nobody wants to fund it.

My concerns on the McCain plan. He seems to be very pro-accountability which sounds like more testing. I hate testing! He seems very big on virtual schools/tutoring and online courses. I understand that the future is in technology, but kids in front of computers is not education. I'm also don't understand the funding he suggests. McCain talks about this% of Title 1 and this% of Title 2 money going to different places. Where is this money going right now? Who or what program is going to get left behind?

Ya see, it's all about the all mighty dollar!

FHE: 5 down, 47 to go

I was beginning to think that this Family Home Evening thing was bringing our family closer together. This afternoon Tasha was going through the assignments and we decided to call dad to see if he might need help with the treats. He said yes, we switched assignments, and I made a pie. (mostly because Crystal was baking a blackberry pie and my mouth was watering for berries!) Tasha played happily this afternoon with barbies and homemade dragons (do fantasy Waldorf dragons and big boobed generic barbies mix?), Kyra and her got along until Bill got home, the dogs were frolicking happily in the backyard, and we proceeded with our night.

Opening prayer: Tasha
Song: Bill, Tell me the Stories of Jesus (practice for Sunday's program)
Lesson: Kyra, her talk on God's plan for us (practice for Sunday's program)
Treat: H, triple berry pie (all stuff from the freezer, including the too old crust)
Closing prayer: Tasha

As we finished eating the pie, Tasha shoved it across the table, ran away, came back, insisted on eating it (but we had already gotten rid of it), and then stomped off to the living room in a fit of rage because she didn't get to eat the pie she really didn't want and she didn't want to put up the barbies or go to bed. Such is my life, and we were still singing.

"If the Savior Stood Beside Me..." as Kyra cleared the table and put the dishes in the dishwasher WITHOUT being asked. What a doll. She tends to step it up a notch when Tasha's rage is aimed at one of her parents and not at her. "...would I do the things I do?" More screaming from the living room ..."Would I think of his commandments and try harder to be true?" Bill gets Tasha to put up the barbies with his help but then she doesn't want to brush her teeth, goes into the bathroom with Kyra, comes out and lies about actually doing it, and thus we have yet another fit. I rewrite the lyrics to the song...

If the Savior Stood beside me,
Would I act like such a brat?
Would I run off wreaking havoc
And acting like a rat?
Would I beat up on my sister?
And step on the dog's head?
If I could could see the Savior watching me
heading off to bed.

If the Savior Stood beside me,
Would I make such a big mess?
Would I disobey my parents or try
harder to do less?
Would I throw such a big tantrum?
When "take 4" my mother said?
If I could see the Savior watching me

heading off to bed.

And now I will stop because Bill wants to know why I am "dis-sing my child so bad". If I was really that upset I certainly couldn't be writing this song to such a sweet tune. I love her. She makes me crazy. I wish things were easier now, but hopefully they will get easier later. I think I remember tougher times when she couldn't really communicate, but when she chooses not to communicate when she can, she makes me crazy. I love her. That's my mantra. Sometimes I shout it at her. She makes me crazy (have I said that yet?)... I yell at her, "TASHA!" She looks at me not-quite innocently and I yell, "I LOVE YOU!" She yells back, "I LOVE YOU TWO!" (yes two, because sometimes we get to "I love you three.") Such is my life, and another week down.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Wheat Bread Wednesday

Tasha and I tried out a friends wheat bread recipe last Wednesday. It makes a TON! 5 loaves to be exact, although we could probably reduce that to 4 and make them larger. The thing is, it is the SIMPLEST recipe I have ever tried. I'll be making it again this Wednesday at high noon if anyone is interested in learning, helping, watching, or just eating. (The eating doesn't come until about 2/2:30, but beware, I leave at 3pm to pick Kyra up for school.) Come one, come all... and bring me a loaf pan or 2, I'll even let you take some home.

Here's the recipe...

Amy's (SUPER EASY) Wheat Bread

Dissolve: 3 TBLS yeast into 5 cups of warm water then add:
2/3 cup of oil
2/3 cup of honey
2 TBLS lemon juice
1 TBLS salt
8 cups whole wheat flour
3-4 cups white flour

I add the flour in 2 steps (a half at a time, with the salt in the first half). Knead it. Let it rise. Divide it into 5 parts and place into greased loaf pans. I then placed 2 loaves in the oven, turned it on to 350 and set the timer for 40 minutes. Fabulous! I then took the 2 loaves out, placed the other 3 in (which had risen to the top of the pan by this point), and baked them for 40 minutes.

I KNOW! This doesn't make sense. There is no way to go wrong here. Maybe I'll go into business. What did Sara say a good loaf of bread was going for $2.50?

Friday, September 12, 2008

NTS: Salmon is NOT a substitute for Tuna

When your daughter is hungry and she eats virtually the whole can of tuna on crackers and you really want some more but it's not cold and you like it cold, it is not a good idea to use the fresh pack of salmon that is already waiting for you in the fridge. The mayonaise overpowers the salmon and you can hardly taste it, even with the addition of dill weed it does not even compare with the tasty goodness of tuna. Live and learn I suppose.

A Garden and Her Girl, Chapter 1: The Beginning

To C.S. Lewis: I pray thee, Mr. Lewis, that thou wilt lend me the honor of borrowing not only your writing style, but also many of your exact words. It is in your great honor that I came to find the time in the garden a time well spent engaging my family in manual labor so that I can lend finger to keyboard to record this for future generations. Thank you Mr. Lewis for bringing my love of writing into the dredded world of gardening!
Also to April and Crystal, in no particular order (but maybe alphabetical), to whom I owe an overwhelming gratitude in so many areas that I can not begin to describe here in a dedication.

Once there were four siblings (or sibling-in-laws) whose names were Crystal, April, Jared, and Ryan, and it has been told on another blog that they had a remarkable garden. And it was during this time in which the siblings (or sibling-in-laws) lived together that they did delight in working together on a great many things and did become Kings and Queens of the garden on a street called Greenway. But this is a story to be told by the Kings and Queens, for this is not the story I wish to tell.

My story begins 3 seasons ago when Queen Crystal (long may she garden) imparted her wisdom and experience on a very inquisitive group of noblemen (and women of course, but we are not writing in the era of political correctness). These noblemen (and women) learned a great many things from Queen Crystal (long may she garden), one of them being Princess H. Princess H desired with all of her heart to follow the teachings of this outstanding and righteous Queen, but she did lack the green thumb required to take on such a task. It was then and there that Princess H did, however, decide to start her very own compost bin and create what would later become the foundation of her dream. Three long years Princess H did compost. And for three long years she saved the earth from rotting vegetable and fruit peels tied up in plastic bags never to be seen again, but to be smelled to the ends of the earth in overflowing dumps scattered from here to the farthest reaches of the oceans.

At the time Princess H did not know the good she was doing, but it was the good Queen April and King Ryan (long may they save) that did impress upon her the need we all have to take care of this beautiful land that we have been give. Not one, but both of them have one mind in this matter, and it is said in not so many words this way, "This land. This land that we live in that has been given to us by our God. It is this land that we must take care of and cherish and till. By throwing your garbage into a landfill we are polluting this great earth of ours. It is the people of this earth, the ones who live in this very day and age, that take away all that our children stand to inherit." Now those of you that have heard tale of Queen April and King Ryan (long may they save) know that these are not the exact words that they would have used. In fact, had it been King Ryan speaking, he would have stopped several times to spit something from his mouth, and Queen April would have stood close by rolling her eyes like any good woman would do when her husband was off on one of his rants. At any rate, Queen April did agree with King Ryan on this stance to save the earth, and King Ryan would have said these words if he was more eloquent in his speech, but alas, he is not.

It was after this manner of composting that Princess H did continue for many years. At times, her husband, Prince Wilhelm, did stake out a place for her to plant a garden, but that was done to much avail. Princess H was fearful of undertaking such a project. It was not for many years and a few failed attempts that we come to the point in the story that I wish to begin...

Don't Mess With Me on Education!

Here you can find Barack Obama's Education Plan
Here you can find John McCain's Education Plan

Obama's plan is written mainly with bullet points, whereas McCain's is written more in paragraph form. For this reason (and this reason only) I will quote McCain more than Obama. I'm not favoring McCain's plan, just the ability to quote his site. As you will find out, I don't favor either plan, they are both bunk. I'm not going to give you my credentials, my experience in working with children (in both the high class and minority districts- oops, I just gave it to you), or my personal experience in raising my 2 children (I did it again). Just know that I know a few things and I don't care if you agree or disagree with me, this is my opinion.

Early Childhood Education:
One of Obama's plans for fixing education is called a "Zero to Five plan" which will lead states to voluntary, universal preschool. Um-hm, sorry! Any child that really needs preschool does not have a parent that will "voluntarily" take him there. Obama also plans on quadrupling early/headstart monies. This quote is from McCain's website: "There is no shortage of federal programs targeted at early child care and preschool. State and federal funding for early childhood care and education programs is over $25 billion each year. The list of programs includes Head Start, Title I preschool programs, Early Head Start, Even Start, the Individuals With Disabilities Education Act, Early Reading First, the Social Services Block Grant, the Child Care and Development Block Grant, and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families." I'm not going to look this up, I will assume that a presidential candidate has these sort of facts correct. I have no idea what 25.billion.dollars looks like or spends like, nor do I know how to allocate that kind of money. What I do know is that quadrupling it won't help. How do I know this? Because McCain's plan for early childhood education is to fix the already existing programs. What, they are not working? So McCain's plan says, "Any successful reform effort requires clearly defined goals and objectives." Great, just what we need, a standardized test to get out of preschool.

But coming up here is the real answer to early childhood education. It was buried deep, deep down at the end of McCain's site: "Parental involvement is critical to the success of any pre-K program. Current federal programs will be focused on educating parents on the basics of preparing their children for a productive educational experience. These programs will place an emphasis on reading and numbers skills, as well as nutrition and general health. Reinforcing to parents the fundamental importance of reading to their children as a primary way of expanding their vocabulary and preparing their young minds to learn will be emphasized at every level." If you really want to make a difference in education you need to educate the parents, not the children! How do you do that?! I don't think anyone knows. Let's try it on a very small scale, invite a group of church goers to a Provident Living Fair, and offer a class on teaching your child to read. Oh wait, we already did that... and nobody came to the class! No, I'm not boo-hooing and I'm certainly not trying to make anyone feel bad. I'm just stating a fact that even when the information is there and available, not many people partake. You can't force people to learn and that may be what is wrong with the educational system.

That's all I've got in me for tonight. I just had to let the puppy out and realized that I left the soft scrub working in the sink over an hour ago. I sat down the check my email and what do you know... Really Scott! I appreciate you making me solidify my stance on a topic near and dear to my heart. If anyone really wants to hear more I'll conquer the rest later. I actually laughed at one idea presented. HAH.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

"Are you for Scuba?"

Along Came Polly just came on and that quote just makes me laugh. It is the most ridiculous scene, followed by a silly story about a hippo. This sort of sums up the thoughts going through my mind right now. So here goes, my brain is about to spill...

Bill has a great thing to post and everyone should harass him until he does it. He's not allowed to cut and paste or write anything about sports until he narcs on me. It was quite funny so we'll see if he can do it any justice. But then again, maybe it wasn't THAT funny and you had to be there. Oh well, I thought maybe he was in the other room right now doing just such a thing.

Rain always seems to clean things. We always say how fresh and clean things are after a nice good rain. Would someone please tell my husband that clean rain does not imply that clothes can get cleaned in the rain? Why do I keep asking him to help me with the laundry, and is this yet another attempt by him to be relieved from such duties? (Really, should I go pull them down now that the rain is over and they are soaking wet, or chance them getting soaked again?)

I was at a handwork group last week with a load of Waldorf parents when my worst nightmare happened. It wasn't actually a nightmare, it was just as ridiculous as the hippo story. Waldorf education believes that you don't teach children rote things at a young age, you let them grow and discover and learn at their own pace. Makes sense, but I knew there would be crazies out there. A woman actually said something to this effect, "I don't know where my child is learning all her numbers from. She is just counting all the time and loves it. I don't encourage it. When we went to the play group this summer I was hoping that she didn't start doing it because I didn't want anyone thinking that I was teaching her." Just let your daughter be a hippo! After listening to her debate on whether her daughter was brilliant and that she didn't think her daughter needed to be placed in advanced classes, I had to pipe in and say, "kids are kids and they all develop at different rates. My younger daughter is obsessed with counting to 100 and my older one could have cared less at that age." Please!

I just giggle when I think of all those couples out there sitting side by side with their individual laptops going full throttle. Or, in our case, one laptop and the jumbo-tron in the next room. Does this count and things you do together if we ever go to couple's counseling?!

How do math concepts roll over to real life? Kyra is to Tasha what Harlee is to Zoey. The first pair are my kids, the second pair are my dogs. (Boy will my mom be thrilled with this analagy!)Well behaved, obedient older sisters to fun-loving, roudy little sisters. Thanks April for figuring this one out.

I have no idea how to keep the words "affect" and "effect" straight. I try and try but not only do I have to look it up each time I use it, I have to read the sentence examples to understand it. I'm thinking of putting a link on my blog to save myself some time. I did not look it up tonight so if I used wrong in the Waldorf paragraph that is just too stinking bad. I'm counting on the ignorance of my readers to have missed it. On the other hand, please comment if you have a sure-fire way to keep them straight. When in doubt, I go with the "effect."

I quoted another movie to Bill last night. He was giving me a hard time about something and wouldn't let it drop. (I can't even remember what it was about) So I started in on him,
"You mocked me once, never do it again!" And then I kept going because he started to open his mouth in protest, "I DIED that day! And you can die too for all I care." He caved since he really couldn't come up with a good retort and finally answered, "AAAAS-YOOOOOU-WIIIIISH!"

I love how laughter deflects negative emotions and anger. It has helped with the kids if you can just divert their hostility toward a good belly laugh. Sometimes I worry that we really need to dig into whatever is going on, but sometimes it's better to just diffuse the situation. I really love it when it happens accidentally and is genuine. I have 2 memories of this happening: 1) I was about 10 years old and had stayed out past dark to "help" a friend with her paper route. When I walked in the door my mom was at the table, visibly shaken and worried about me. I didn't see the big deal, my brother was supporting me and my mom tried to punish me. In an effort to ground me she pointed that motherly finger at me and cried, "you're-you're, (long pause), you're out of bounds!" She completely gave up trying to find the right word and my brother and I just just busted out laughing. Needless to say, my one and only grounding ended the very second my mom tried to enforce it and she realized her over-reaction. 2) Bill and I were at the drive-thru at Pete's Fish and Chips one night and were just chatting and joking around. Something happened when we got our food (he said something dumb, or they overfilled the cup AGAIN and the stupid sticky soda was leaking out the top) and I went ballistic. Without missing a beat Bill shyly says, "WOW. Zero to pissed off in point 5 seconds!" I think he said it under his breath so I wouldn't lash out further, but I just busted up laughing. We actually had to pull over and stop the car we were laughing so hard.

Finally (because this seems to be "pick on Bill night"), why oh why would Bill leave David Letterman and his interview with Barack Obama on if he doesn't really want to discuss politics? I'm tempted to go wake him up and talk to him about something that was said. I guess this is better than earlier when he went in the other room and left on A Time to Kill just as it was starting and a little girl was about to be raped. I actually yelled at him to come and change the channel, "you better be on your way...run, run, run... you need to change it quick," I believe were my exact words.

Seriously though, "are you for scuba?"

Monday, September 8, 2008

From Tasha's point of View

I guess I'm really post-happy tonight. The computer stopped working for a bit, I finally got it back, and then I snagged some family-free time. This last post is what happens when your 4 year old gets ahold of the camera. The shutter doesn't work correctly now, but I liked to see what her room looks like to her. (She centered a couple of these shots like a pro)

12 Cents per Chore

Kyra recently had an Achievement night lesson on money management. When she came home, she emptied this bank into her new system and gave it to her little sister. Tasha was thrilled (poor second child with nothing but hand-me-downs) and immediately started filling it. I've started paying her to do the things I NEED her to do. Setting the table, picking up her room, making her bed, helping laundry...you get the picture. Since immediate pay is necessary for a 4 year old I pay her as soon as it is done, $.12. Why 12? The dime goes in the fun slot, one penny for tithing, and one penny for her mission. This was the easiest way I could think of teach the 10% tithing thing. It came from a story Bishop Randall told me several years ago: When he would ask his grandfather to borrow a dollar he would alwasy loan him $1.11 so he could immediately pay his tithing.
So, this 12 cent payment for helping out seems to be working to my advantage. I just have to mention money and she's up and working. I guess I'm good for another week or two, then it's on to the next trick...

It's all about Presentation

Several months ago I caught about 5 minutes of a Rachel Ray show on TV. That's all it took. I know I can't cook like she does, but I noticed something very key to a nice plate: you have to make it look good. Now I'm addicted to making my plain food look fancy and I've been taking pictures for a while of this crazy obsession. Here are some of the results, in no particular order (except for how I found them on my stupid zoom browser)

This is my new thing: take any round item (tortilla of the flour or corn variety, pita, ect.), top it with some cheese, veggies, pesto, butter and garlic salt, or even pizza toppings, stick it in the toaster oven for one cycle, let it sit 'til the cheese is set, cut it into 4 pieces and a finally arrange nicely on my very cool square plates from the Pampered Chef. Pictured here is the lamest of my attempts, but we were having chili and I thought simple corn cheese crisps were good enough. I sprinkled some green herb in the middle just to "spice" things up, but that's just 'cuz I'm a dork that way.

One Sunday this summer I just couldn't face turning the oven or stove on. Friends were coming over, I didn't want a hot kitchen, and I just didn't plan in advance enough to get dinner on the table. So here it is: fruit, cheese and crackers. But how do you sell it to a man?! Of course the girls liked it, especially since I didn't even put plates down. We just opened up our napkins, placed items on them, and ate the watermelon from the bowl with our forks.

Just a bit of silliness for lunch... (Tasha loved it!)
Yep, that's a cashew nose.
Can you believe that I made this fabulous looking chicken dish for myself? Bill isn't a spinach fan so I had a tasty lunch one afternoon. It is "wilted" spinach (thanks Rachel for teaching me what that looks like), topped with chicken, pear jam and bleu cheese. Just a pinch of basil to make the plate look prettier.

Pasta at our house is served with your choice of sauce. Typically I have pesto, Tasha butter and Parmesan, Kyra and Bill have tomato(I don't even heat the sauce, just pull it straight from the jar). I like to break out the fancy bowls because they are pretty and cloth napkins always make you feel special. Just think about it, all I really did was boil water and toss a salad. (In the center is a lot of crazy pita bread varieties...pizza, pesto/Parmesan, garlic butter)
I'm sure you noticed an overwhelming amount of cheese and specifically cheese crisps. This tends to be a side dish quite often at dinner since I know Tasha will eat it, if nothing else. Come to think of it, dinner hasn't been quite the Tasha struggle as it used to be since I started the fancy service. Holy Cow, I can't even remember the last time she went screaming from the table and flopped herself onto the couch for no particular reason other than to protest the fact that we've asked her to sit down to the dinner table. Miracle.

Dinner is Served

Last Thursday I realized that I hadn't started dinner about 5 minutes before I rushed out the door to take Tasha to gymnastics. I gave a chicken gravy packet to Kyra and pointed to the one pan dinner recipe and said, "Here, will you make dinner?" Astonished, she gaped at me and said, "What? You trust me to do it myself?" Of course I do silly girl. You amaze me with your abilities every day. I'm sorry I don't tell you that enough.
And so it was. I arrived home to a perfectly cooked chicken and rice dish complete with a side of canned green beans. What a delight!

FHE: 4 down, 48 to go

Apparently, forth time's a charm!
"There is beauty all around, when there's love at home..."

That was the lesson, and so there was. Love at home.

Too bad it didn't last through the night...but that would be the glass is half empty speaking. Sorry, FHE was a success. WooHoo!!! Great lesson babe.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Finger or Toe?

We had a delightfully unplanned day of bliss yesterday...except for the car rides. Anyone who knows me knows I have completely tried to avoid driving anywhere with my children. At the end of the summer I actually stayed home all day with them instead of going to the fun gym with the totally cool swimming pool, the library, IKEA, and even to my friends houses for a little girl time. I was miserable with a capital M. I assume the Lord had some hand in this Misery because our new routine involves Kyra carpooling to school with her dad and the bus picking Tasha up for preschool. Why the Lord? Because now I have exactly enough time to get to the temple, do a session, and race home to meet the bus that is returning my youngest child from 3 hours of mother-free bliss. But, back to my point...

We drove the clunker all day yesterday because the battery in the van died that morning. (If you don't understand "clunker" please search the word on my blog page or ask Monique who was privledged enough to drive it lately.) The problem with the car is that the children are now much closer to us and in a more confined space. They do have a bit more space inbetween them, but not enough. When Jaylee asked for an example of what they fought over I could only think of the latest argument.

Kyra: No.
Tasha: Yes.
Kyra: No.
Tasha: Yes.
Kyra: NO! I don't want to smell your feet.
Tasha: Kyra-a-a-a-a-a!
(at which point I look back to see Tasha in a very contorted position trying to stick her foot in Kyra's face)
Me: Tasha, cut it out.

Seriously, what do you do about this kind of argument? Kyra, just smell her stinky foot. Tasha, what in the heck? Then the smart man at the table pipes in, "you could have them play finger or toe." OK, you've got me know. What is finger or toe? "It was on Scrubs. You close your eyes and try to guess if it's a finger or toe." Hmm. I don't even want to touch that one.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

A whole day...with my husband?!

Seriously, who scheduled this day and why hasn't it happened before? It felt like we were dating again and all googly sappy in love. Aah. Here's how the day went down:

Slept in, computer time, showered, took one kid to the church to set up. (This would be the time before you meet your boyfriend to go out. One kid doesn't count as "the kids" since one kid doesn't cause nearly the fiasco that multiple kids do.)
Brunch. (kid table means adult conversation at our table)
Drive to my brother's house to dump the kids.
Drive to the temple. (No kids= no arguing+ no questions+ no interruptions+ no whining = happy lady with time to talk)
Temple sealing. (Need I say more?)
Drive to pick up the kids. (more time to talk, discuss politics, complain about stupid people saying completely inappropriate things)
Pick up a battery for the dead van. (aah, he's taking care of my vehicle for me! OK, in datingland I don't drive a van, but I also don't know that replacing a battery is about as far as this handsome guys mechanical skills go.)
Reception luncheon. (Again, kids are off and old enough to take care of themselves. More adults to talk to, WOW! I lost Bill for a few moments while he held a baby... who doesn't love it when their boyfriend acts all fatherly?!)
Drive kids to our friends house to dump them off again. (no talking allowed, they're tired and cranky)
Dinner with Bill's learning team from school. (This time it was adult conversation with a few drunken stories which were stupid. But it was like when you go out with a group that you don't know very well and you whisper a few remarks in your boyfriend's ear like, "we're busy that day" because you never, never, never, want to see these people again and you can't wait until you get in the car to drive home and gossip about all those weirdos. OK, I'm being harsh...I liked one couple but I'm pretty sure the other 2 didn't even know I was there.)
Pick-up the kids and home by... 11:00?! (What respectable parent keeps their kids out that late before 9am church?! Not us, we're dating. These must be someone else's kids.)

So then you get home from your long old date and realize all of the things that you were supposed to be doing on Saturday but didn't because you were all giggly silly and your face hurts from smiling. We actually had a couple moments where my stomach hurt from laughing so hard. (I'm trying to figure out how to blog one of them but I just don't think it will play out right) He drops me off at home and I realize I didn't get the sheets washed so I stay up late to finish that. I also need to prepare a lesson for Sunday School but decide that we can just finish up the scripture search lesson that we started last week. (Sorry to burst your very-prepared-and-totally-trustworthy-teacher impression) The only disappointing part of the day was sitting at dinner enjoying a deliciously scruptious bite of overpriced steak and thinking, "this would be totally worth it if only my real friends were here."

Anyway, since my boyfriend dropped me off late but he's actually still here we're gonna go make out now. And Bill, you can't comment because I don't know how serious we are yet and I don't think I would have let you know I have blog.

Friday, September 5, 2008

"Trifecta flour"

Yes, I watch way too much Law and Order. When the cops on that show don't have any evidence on a suspect, but they have 3 things that lead them to believe that someone did it, they will arrest them on a trifecta clause. I assume it is a made-up way the NYCity detectives (on TV!) justify an arrest with no real proof. Typically it involved motive, opportunity, and some sort of ID that they were at the scene. Thus, the trifecta of guilt surrounds them and they are brought in for questioning. Good thing we can't be convicted in this way, and good thing that this is only TV.

Tuesday night Chef Brad talked about his substitute for white flour. White, bleached, stripped of all nutritional content, might as well be sugar 'cuz it's such a terribly simple carb, flour. I posted it before, but the refresher is equal parts of spelt, barley, and brown rice. Even as I sat listening to him, the word trifecta popped into my head. Here's parts of the definition from wikipedia and why it works in this scenario:

The word comes from the related betting term, "perfecta"...
The trifecta system is seen by many as a loophole in democracy, because it allows an executive to essentially override a choice by the voters...

"Trifecta" as a slang term is used to describe any successful or favorable phenomenon or characteristic that comes in threes..

So, there you have it. You can bet the trifecta flour is a perfect substitute for all your non-yeast baking needs. Using trifecta flour is a loophole to avoiding all those fabulous desserts because all the good brown rice, spelt, and barley override any harmful affects from the sugar in your favorite cookies. Trifecta flour is most definitely a favorable phenomenon.

My experience in the 2 batches of cookies that I made is that you need to use more of the trifecta flour than is called for in a recipe. For instance, the Snickerdoodles called for 2 3/4 cups of white flour and it took at least 3 1/2 of the trifecta flour to make a dough that was not too sticky to roll in the cinnamon sugar. I will probably experiment more with ratios in batters that I know well before I try it in something like a cake that will turn to mush if the amount of flour isn't right. Leave me your tips if and when you try it. I have about 10 more cups of the flour if you want to come try some. (If you hurry, there still may be some cookies!)

* this silly computer doesn't think trifecta is a word! Dumb blogger spellcheck! Andrew would understand my word. He even has tri-sandals with 3 little stripes on the top.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

"Heavenly Father Wants a Healthy People"

The above quote was from Chef Brad at this evening's Enrichment meeting. I hope he doesn't mind my quoting his quote of 2 separate priesthood blessings, but it really does sum up the night for me. I realize that the point of tonight's lesson was to focus on our divine role in the kitchen, but I found much more help in the areas of what to do, as opposed to how to do it with a smile on my face. I went home and sarcastically answered Bill's inquiry of the evening something like this, "oh, it was great: I was told how spending all day in the kitchen doing stupid, mundane tasks for the service of my family was very Christlike...if done with the right attitude." Seriously, I get his point, took it to heart, and will try to be less of a grouch when my child refuses to eat what I have slaved over. He really was inspirational and I appreciated everything he had to say.

Specifics from the meeting on what to do to become a healthier people: (this is for mostly for my train of thought and to organize my thoughts and actions, but also for those dear readers who either missed his presentation or did not have pen in hand)

Teach nutrition to your children. Be specific about simple vs. complex carbs and they will get it!

You need 50-70 grams of fiber a day. Be sneaky in adding it to your diet. Cook your good grains at the beginning of the week and add them to the foods you already cook. Do you have a good enchilada recipe? Sneak in some grains. Add beans to your spaghetti sauce. (I still don't get this one) Start subtly, and keep adding until your family notices and quits eating the good stuff.

80/20 plan: If 80% of the ingredients in your dish, or 80% of the stuff on your plate is good, then the other 20% can be bad. This goes hand in hand with the don't compromise clause: the one where you should not compromise taste, texture, or comfort food for the sake of good nutrition. If you don't want to eat it, it is not going to make you healthier. This is also a good plan for wheat bread in the ratio of wheat flour to white flour. (The recipe I have is more of a 60/40 dough, I'll make it and share)

Replacement for white flour: equal parts of spelt, brown rice, and barley. Mix it all up and put it in your wheat grinder on the finest setting. It is good to use in any recipe except yeast bread. He used it in his Texas Sheet Cake recipe.

Advice from Chef Brad: Let food bind you together as a family!

What did I forget? Or what was your highlight and takehome advice?!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Enthusiasm is Contagious

I have a plaque on my wall that says, "Enthusiasm is nothing more or less than faith in action." I don't know what else to say about that, but I love it! I also love that other people's enthusiasm can rub off on me and give me the kick in the pants that I need sometimes.

I realized that the reason I love canning peaches is because the first time I did it was with a friend that loved it. She was giddy with delight as she taught me all the ins and outs of the task. She would be gathering lids and rings and then spontaneously stop and look into the sink full of sliced peaches and say, "aren't they beautiful?" Then she would whisk her hands through them just to feel their fruitiness and sometimes pull out a piece to eat. I didn't get it then, but I caught the bug and get it now. Next year I'm going to suck some of my friends in with me.

Today I was working outside with Bill and decided to give my garden a go. There is a small 4 by 4 area that has not been entirely overtaken by grass so I decided to dig it up and run my fingers through the dirty goodness of the soil. I pulled out the bulk of the weeds and even saw a skinny little wormie (that I named Hermie) digging his way through the earth. What a delight! I was hot, sweaty, probably stinky, and I even ended up with dirt in my eye. Why would this be any fun? Hmm, who do we know that is enthusiastic about gardening? Crystal you are killing me, but thanks for the incentive to get a small area going. I'm following your lead so bring me home baby. Tell me when, where, and what to plant!

OOOH! I can't believe I forgot the enthusiasm that saved me from homeschooling Kyra! Thanks April for being such a hip-hoppity nut with the delightful, peaceful, enthusiast leaps of joy that surged from your tiny little body over to Desert Marigold school. (Did that even make sense?!) I would have thought myself a nut for even considering that school (based on her teacher recommendations), but with you on board it was such an easy transition! We're all just a bunch of nuts in this fruit bowl of life.

FHE: 3 down, 49 to go

The kids are asleep and in bed, best part of the evening and the only point in which they didn't whine. Even Tasha's bowl of ice cream wasn't right. On the upside, Kyra really does know the first 6 Articles of Faith, and the 8th.

At least I know what I can fast and pray about next Sunday :)

A few Clarifications

In the comment section of my "Alles wohl" post some of us got into the discussion of nice looking leaders of the church. Let me please clarify a few things...

This is NOT "hot Brigham". Although I am sure he was a great leader and inspirational, this picture scares the ba-gee-bees out of me. Imagine that stern face preaching and prophesying to you. I'm sure I would have followed, a bit out of fear, but certainly he was a prophet of God. I have great respect for the second Prophet of the Church.

This IS "hot Brigham". The actor, Andrew Bowen, played the role of a very young Brigham Young in the movie The Work and the Glory.

Again from the movie The Work and the Glory, Joseph Smith was portrayed by Jonathan Scarfe. He played a very convincing role as our first Prophet which made him quite resistible. I did, however, catch a glimpse of him in an upcoming role on Raising the Bar. His jocularities, coupled with a long haired Mark-Paul Gosselaar, and some intense courtroom drama makes this a show I will definately be tuning into Monday night.

And finally, here is President Uchtdorf. I believe that Monique is right, we should probably refer to him as a "refined, good-looking man." I am grateful for the testimony, strength, wisdom, and experiences of this fine General Authority. I know our lives will be blessed as we follow the teachings of the First Presidency and those of our brother and Savior, Jesus Christ.