Wednesday, December 30, 2009

End of another year

It's hard to believe that we're a whole year older than we were this time last year :-) Looking back was hard for me this time. I go back to October and then kind of get stuck there. However, there were 9 really good months that occurred before the events of October 1st.

Sam turned five in June. Jake turned 4 in October. Chris turned eight in November. The boys are growing and thriving. Chris is making progress with reading and writing. He's still behind but we have an appointment with a developmental ophthalmologist in January. She'll be able to tell us if his eyes are tracking correctly or if we're dealing with another fine motor delay affecting something most of us take for granted.

Sam is talking a lot :-) It seems like I've been waiting forever to hear him voice his opinions and thoughts. He's still not a very clear speaker, but it's a relief to be able to converse with him.

Jake's having the most trouble dealing with Dave's loss. He doesn't like to go to bed by himself so he's been driving his brother's crazy trying to make them have "sleepovers" every night. I understand where he's coming from but I'm a bit worried that if I let him sleep with me on a regular basis it will make it even more difficult for both of us later. You just can't sleep with your mommy for your entire childhood.

We had a magnificent garden this summer. Dave made five new grow box frames for us. They made all the difference in the world. It was much easier weeding and watering in the grow boxes. We had sand delivered and worked it into our lovely heavy clay soil which made the plants much happier than they have been in past years. Sam and his dad planted pumpkins and melons all over the pasture. Chris had his own, interestingly arranged grow box. I planted 16 tomato plants and 12 bell peppers. We also made an herb bed this year. Next year I'd like to add at least three more boxes. We harvested all the squash and the last of the tomatoes the night before Dave died. It's as if summer ended and winter entered all in one fell swoop.

4-H went well this year. We had kids from 3 clubs working in rabbits and cavies together. It's always a better learning experience when you have greater diversity and a range of ages within the project. I am so proud of all of my kids! They had an awesome year and I enjoyed working with each and every one of them!

This was my first year leading cake decorating. It was thrilling (truly) to be able to teach something that I hadn't already led for years and years. I think I'm a much better leader when I'm challenged to provide new experiences and learn new skills. Katelyn and Chris were the only kids in the project and so we were pretty relaxed. I always enjoy working with both of them. Kate's taken rabbits with us for three years or so now. She's one of my favorite kids!

Next year I'm branching out in new directions. Leading cake decorating reassured me that my decision to move away from leading in the small animal projects was a good choice. I really am not as good a leader as I used to be. It's time for someone new and excited about the project to lead. Amanda Jo, thank you and best wishes for the upcoming year! I'll be co-leading in the sheep project. Luckily the sheep leader is very experienced because it's been years since I've worked with a large livestock project. Chris is ready for a market lamb and we're not taking rabbits this year to fair (hooray!). I also agreed to lead Vet Science and do Cake Decorating again. I'm hoping that my brain turns back on in time for me to do a good job for the members in my projects. Please, have patience with me guys :-)

Homeschool has been a blessing beyond my ability to convey with words. We've had an awesome year and enjoyed almost every minute of it. In January we had the opportunity to join a co-op in Boise and God must have smiled on us that day because I don't know what we would have done this year without those wonderful families. I've learned so much from the other moms in the group. Amazingly, not even half of what I've learned has to do with education :-) My kids love going and learning with the other kids. Experiencing other teaching styles and exploring subjects that we may not have chosen to cover on our own is so good for them! When Dave died the families in our co-op brought us flowers, food, and companionship. They took care of my kids when I couldn't and let me vent when I needed too. TEACH provides us with a sense of community that makes it easier to get through the weeks.

Another blessing that coincided with our TEACH experience is getting to spend a bit more time with my cousin La Donna. We haven't seen or talked to each other in years. I don't know what I would have done without her when Dave died either. She covered my classes for several weeks and drove my kids to co-op. She helped them maintain what little normalcy we had during the first few weeks. We've also enjoyed getting to know Jojo and Belle better. My kids are a bit surprised to find out that I have cousins. I have tons of cousins, just not many that live close or have children the age of mine. It's been an exciting development for my little family.

My Grandmother Loucks passed away in August which was an occasion for some weeping but also joy in renewing relationships with parts of our family we haven't seen in a long time. La Donna made sure we knew when everything was happening and kept us up to date as events occured. Once again- so thankful to have spent more time with her this year :-)

Other than the obvious exceptions it's been a good year. We've grown and changed (mostly for the better). Somehow the years seem to speed up the older I get. I'm not sure how that happens, maybe it's a time warp or something.

Friday, December 25, 2009




For the record- Xanax and tequila work quite well together :-) It doesn't take much tequila and the resulting mellowness seems to last well into the next day. I've even been sleeping!!! Now I'm wishing I'd given in and tried tequila or scotch much sooner. One shot in an evening and the world looks much brighter the next day.


MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Phhhhllllltttttt....

My poor neglected blog. I've left you alone far too long, but I'm just not sure what to say anymore. I have a hard time saying what I'm really thinking where the people I care about can read it. It's much easier to talk to people I don't know as well.

Today is hard. It's much harder than I ever imagined it could be. I miss my husband. I don't want to set up for tomorrow by myself. In fact it is such an incredibly unpleasant idea that I'd rather skip Christmas all together. If I could just go to sleep and not wake up until after Christmas- that would be fine with me.

Dave and I always did the holiday preparations together. I would sew and make gifts. He would watch the kids so that I could sew and make gifts. This year people will not be getting handmade gifts. I probably could have made them, but my heart just wasn't in it.

In a lot of ways it feels like I've gone back in time. Unfortunately the time period I've apparently chosen to visit is my teenage years. I didn't like being a teenager the first time I was there. I like it less now. Hormones, mood swings, self centered, generally unpleasant- yep, that's me. I don't like the way I feel right now. I don't like it at all.

On Christmas Eve Dave and I would always get everything ready for Christmas Day. We'd stay up late making sure everything was just right and then we'd fall in bed together to celebrate another good year. All of our years were good ones. We had so much fun together!

I feel like my soul's been ripped. It's injured and aching. Every day I wake up and try to be the best mommy I can be. Some days that mommy's not a particularly good one. It's hard being around people, even my own children. I'd love to travel to the ends of the earth and get away from people for a while. Of course, if I'm alone then I still tend to panic. I have some poor, abused facebook friends who can attest to that. I want to be alone, but I can't actually tolerate being alone.

It's Christmas, and we're all supposed to be happy. I find myself wondering how early is too early to start drinking tequila. Don't worry- I don't usually drink, it's not as if I'm falling into alcoholic oblivion. This is just so much harder than I thought it would be. I love my children and want the best for them. Me, present and accountable is the best I can provide.

They seem to be doing much better than I am. Of course, if you asked people around me I'm sure they'd tell you that I'm doing better than expected too. It's much easier to hide what you're feeling than it is to share it. If you ask me how I'm doing I'm going to tell you "fine."

Hopefully, sometime between now and tomorrow morning I'll have a revelation that will make the holiday better. Something will happen that will renew my faith and feed my soul. Until then, tequila sounds very, very good :-)

Monday, December 07, 2009

If I were dating...

A friend and I were talking last night about the qualities we'd look for in a man if we were dating. She's young and has never been married. I'm not so young and was married for nine years. Neither one of us is looking at the moment, but if we were- what traits appeal and which really, really don't?

So, in no particular order, here are the traits I find attractive in a man:

Intelligence
Honesty
Good Sense of Humor
Ability to admit mistakes- and then deal with them
Self-Sufficiency
Love of the outdoors
Faith- you don't have to believe exactly the same things I do, but you'd better believe something
Monogamy
Love of learning- not necessarily formal education, just learn things regularly
Belief in the importance of family
Ability to learn anything you need to learn
Ability to shoot someone or something if the situation warrants it
Ability to remain calm during an emergency
Love and defense of liberty
Responsibility
Sense of adventure
Enjoyment of life's simple pleasures

And the deal breakers:

Hands softer than mine (and mine aren't that rough)
Inability to change your own oil- I pay to change mine, you can too- but for heaven's sake don't pay for it just because you're not capable of changing it
Dishonesty
Stupidity- everyone makes mistakes but the ignorant can be educated
Not getting my sense of humor- absolute deal breaker :-)
Dislike of animals and/or children
Being grossed out by blood and other bodily fluids/functions- If I can clean it up, bandage it, or otherwise deal with it- you'd better be able to as well
Lack of mechanical skills- If I'm better at mechanical things than you are I probably won't find that a turn on.
Inability to be flexible- also not a turn on.
Inability to laugh at yourself- see previous disqualifications.
Unwillingness to continue looking for new educational experiences
Lack of interest in nature
Lack of knowledge about nature
Lack of understanding of basic scientific principles
Lack of understanding of basic logic and reasoning
Spending more time on your hair than I do- In my experience this means I'm really, really not your type.


I'm sure that given time and contemplation both lists will get longer. But for now... It'll have to do. I'm really not looking- just jotting my thoughts down before they leave my head never to be heard from again. Of course there are a slew of other traits that I find attractive or unattractive but I can be more flexible in those areas. In the past I would have said that I am attracted to tall, dark haired, dark eyed men. Of the three men I've spent any real time dating one was almost 6' tall, brown haired and hazel eyed. The other two were shorter, blond, and blue eyed. I thought Dave was pretty cute and he was blond, blue-eyed, and average height so it just goes to show- there are absolute must haves and must not haves, everything else is just stuff :-)



Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Bad Tempered

I realize this is the season for giving thanks, and I am thankful. There are many things in my life for which I am thankful: health for myself and my children, lovely weather, the beautiful country surrounding us, good friends and family, our very good dog, cute kittens, children learning to be independent, plentiful food, clean drinking water, shelter, and so much more.

However, my temper is very short and I'm having a hard time controlling it.

I just want to have a nice holiday. Really, I care about the family and friends we've invited- or else we would not have invited them. But I just want my holiday, my way. Yes, it's selfish. No, I don't care. Next year I'll care. This year I don't. I don't want to do things your way. I don't want to compromise. Maybe I'll regret it later. But today, to quote my son, "I want to do it the way I want."

Everything I treasure about the holidays has been turned upside down. I do not want help making pie. I do not want to go to someone else's house and let them do all the work. I do not want to eat Thanksgiving dinner in the early afternoon. I just don't want to do it. I want to return to my traditions. I want to immerse myself in the parts of the holiday that I still have some control over and enjoy.

This is not fun. I do not want to be where I am today. I do not like being a single parent. I do not like it at all. I do not like sympathy. I do not like being treated like I'm fragile (or explosive). I do not really like it when anyone acknowledges that this is a hard time for me. But- I do want to do the holidays my way. I want some control over the changes we have to live through.

Tomorrow, I'm sure I'll feel bad for being unwilling to compromise. I realize that the people in my life are really trying to help and make things easier for me... and I appreciate them for trying. What remains, is my desire to grab onto the holiday traditions I used to have. I love cooking and entertaining. I love having people over. I love setting a pretty table. This I can do, and I'm thankful that my friends and family are nice enough to let me do my thing and hopefully not get too frustrated with me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thursday, November 19, 2009

I need a vacation

I am tired. Not, "stayed up too late last night," tired. Tired like, "getting four hours of sleep (or less) every night for the past 42 days and sleeping 16 hours total in the week prior to that. I would really like to sleep but four hours seems to be my waking point. This would be ok if I could take a nap during the day- but I'm not allowed. I've tried it. It never works. Someone needs me every five minutes. In the end I am frustrated, but not rested.

Yes, I've been encouraged to try sleeping aids. I have tried them. Four hours, yes, four hours. After four hours my mind turns back on and my body hurts. Ah yes, I forgot about the body aches that usually had me waking up at the four hour point. Only now, I can't get back to sleep after I get up and move around- and at 2 or 3 in the morning I can't take anything to put me back to sleep either.

Let's not forget that Jake wakes up about four and comes into my bed because he, "has a hard time sleeping." I understand the problem, trust me- I understand it. The fact remains, we need more sleep over here. I would also welcome someone taking the boys for an overnighter so that I can actually relax for a little while without having to fix food, do laundry, kiss hurts, run baths, and take care of the myriad little details that fill our days. But- no one is going to do that. You see, it's been almost two months since my husband died and in the eyes of the world- we are healed and no longer need assistance. I couldn't accept assistance after the first week because we needed to be able to stand on our own. That kind of screwed me- because now I am exhausted, bone deep exhausted.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The next chapter...

This has been a good week. I finally took some time off (we've been running a lot lately) in order to focus on resting and letting my body heal. I've been sick since the 2nd of October- straight through, no break. It started with a little cough, and I've been coughing and blowing my nose ever since. This week, and last weekend, I took it easy. We stayed home (for the most part) and worked on school, watched tv, listened to music, played a little music, played with the dog and kittens, and generally acted like lazy bums. When Dave died I wanted to be anywhere but home. Things look so normal here but everything had changed. Now we're moving into a new kind of normal.

News flash: I did not die. I know, that seems pretty obvious- but it takes a while for your body and mind to come to terms with a major loss. For several weeks my body didn't really register sensation, like hot/cold, pain/pleasure, hunger, etc. I think it took about three weeks for the physical shock to wear off. When I was alone my body would panic (it usually took my brain a while to figure out why things felt so weird). I am a fan of Xanax. It's good stuff. I haven't taken any this week (not since last Thursday, I believe) and things seem to be going fine without it.

Everything is different, and yet, some things are still the same. We still homeschool. I'm still teaching a class about bugs for our homeschool co-op (although I've definately not been as good a teacher the past few weeks). We're still involved in 4-H. I'm still leading cake decorating, vet science and sheep (co-leading sheep). Chris is still looking forward to getting a lamb this spring. Sam is in love with our litter of kittens. Zowie is in love with our litter of kittens. Jake is goofy, goofy and runs around the house pretending to be Buzz Lightyear and flying.

Every morning we get up and the world is still turning. The sun is shining. The weather here has been beautiful! We've been blessed in so many ways. I can hardly wait to see what happens in the next chapter of our lives.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Ride

Sit tall in the saddle, hold your head up high, keep your eyes fixed where the trail meets the sky. Live like you ain't afraid to die, and don't be scared- just enjoy your ride.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Repost from August 2006

SATURDAY, AUGUST 26, 2006

The Importance of Men

Too often lately the importance of men in our lives seems to be marginalized. Yes, it is possible to support yourself and raise children without the presence of a husband, but it's not ideal. It's not ideal for you and it's not ideal for your children.

My father died when I was very young. My mother didn't have a choice when it came to being a single parent. She made good sound choices regarding her personal life before she planned on becoming a parent (yes, I was planned.... scary thought isn't it?). The hand Fate dealt her changed her options. Once my father was gone she had to think very carefully before choosing to introduce new men into my life.

I am thankful every day for my husband. It scares me sometimes to think how little control I have over whether he will live to be an old man and share my entire life with me. He is not home for very many of the boys' waking hours during the week since he leaves early every morning to work and support us in the grand manner we've become accustomed to (hard to convince little boys they don't want to eat). On the weekends it's hard to get him to leave the house. Sometimes this is a little frustrating since I'm here at home the entire flipping week. Wouldn't it be more fun to leave home and go somewhere? Anywhere? Maybe watch paint peel on the old downtown buildings? Seriously though, aren't I lucky he wants to spend as much of his time as he can with his family?

Sam is so upset these days if Dave leaves for work before Sam wakes up. How dare Daddy leave him all alone with this chopped liver person he calls Mommy? His little eyes just light up when Dave's home weekend mornings and all the kids pile into bed with us. Chris waits to tell me everything that happened at school until his dad gets home. It doesn't matter how many questions I ask, there's always something he's held back specially to tell Dad. Jake will lay across my lap while I'm trying to nurse him (after he's followed me around the house for 10 minutes making "feed me" noises) and watch his father (while biting me!) if Dave walks into the house before I'm finished nursing the little booger.

As for myself, I would go insane if I were all alone raising 3 boys without the love and support (and midnight baby wrangling) I get from my husband. I can't imagine why anyone would choose to become a single parent. What deluded soul would imagine that childrearing, so intensive for those of us in a strong relationship, would be such an easy thing to manage all alone and around full time employment. There wouldn't even be someone taking turns cooking dinner or picking children up from daycare. I understand the strong feeling of need that comes when you want a baby. I think children feel that same level of need when it comes having two parents.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Oh, God is good to me...


One of the things that makes me maddest, of all the stupid things people say, is the belief that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people. A former friend of ours was heard to say, "Well, what did you expect?" when he heard the news. We're not good enough for him. He went back to the LDS church, Dave did not. Tonight on Brandy's blog a well meaning commenter said a few things that I'd like to take issue with.

What many of you don't know about me is that when I began college I was firmly on the fence between being an agnostic and an atheist. Some of the doubts raised by this commenter were doubts I lived with on a daily basis.

My father died when I was 22 months old. I've carried a lot of bitterness and many questions for a lot of years. My children are 7, 5, and 3. Their dad was 39. I don't carry those doubts anymore.

When I was young I wrestled with the idea of the Trinity. One of my aunts explained it like this:

She took three matches and held them in her hand, one for each member of the trinity- the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. She lit each match and held the three together. Then she explained that fire is one element that increases as it is spread out- rather than becoming depleted it actually gains strength the farther you stretch it. But you have to feed it.

One of my neighbors explained the Holy Spirit as God's love living inside each one of us.

Genaura (my old roommate) was such a blessing. She never preached, didn't quote scriptures at me, didn't tell me how she was righteous or her faith was right where others were wrong. She just lived her life.

I think there's a light inside each and every one of us. When I arrived at the University my light was like a pilot light on a gas stove. It was still there but it was so small I didn't even register it's existence.

Genaura was filled with a glow so large it spilled out from her and touched those around her. Without doing anything more than living her life- she filled me. My light fed from her light. Through the years that light has gained in strength and intensity. If you feed it it will grow.

There are things I have done this year that I knew at the time were unusual for me and our family. When the apricot tree bloomed early I believed that, just like the past 5 years, we would not have an apricot crop this year. When it froze (and it did freeze more than once after the tree bloomed) I prayed, "Lord, please save the apricots. Please let us have an apricot crop this year." Every time it frosted, "Lord, please let my family enjoy apricots this year."

If you follow me on facebook you already know that we had such an abundance of apricots that my entire freezer is filled with them. We ate and ate and ate and enjoyed the abundant apricots. I worked long, long days making jam and I smiled the whole time and while I worked I sang, "Oh God is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain and the appleseeds. Oh God. Is. Good. To. Me. Amen, amen, amen, amen, amen...... amen.

I tried all summer to teach that song to my children and started using it as a blessing before meals. I had to look up the lyrics when the apricots starting ripening because I vaguely remembered the song and felt such a strong need to sing it. Whenever I tried to get my youngest to sing he would sing the song he made up about his blanket. It's titled, "Blankie, Blankie, Blankie." He never did show the slightest interest in my appleseed song.

The day Dave died several things happened that were not quite usual and customary for our family. It was October 1st. October 1st is the start of the new 4-H year. Our club meets the first Thursday of each month. October 1st is a Thursday. Sam, Chris and I went to 4-H that night. Before we left I packed their lunches for the next day and Dave helped me. We stayed longer than usual because it was our enrollment meeting and people kept waylaying me.

Usually our evening routine had me on the computer (because I very much need a little alone time now and then) and the kids playing out in the shop with Dave. Dave died while I was at 4-H. My Sam would probably have been playing in the same room at the time it happened.

Usually I'm playing on the computer or writing when it's time for the kids to go to bed. Dave handles bedtime. When the kids finish getting their stories from Grandma Chris goes out to the shop to tell his dad that it's time for good night rides.

On October 1st my dogs were driving me crazy. I thought they wanted food but when I filled their bowl they ran out of our house and towards the shop. I figured that Dave was out there watching TV and just waiting for a commercial before he came inside to see us.

Except that I kept thinking, "What if he's laying out there dead?"

But I shrugged that off until the dogs started doing their jig and running between the house and shop. At that point I saw red all over the floor of the garage. My heart stopped and I wondered if Dave had injured himself and gotten to the shop only to bleed to death. Then I realized what I was seeing was chalk all over the floor from when he cut my Styrofoam sheets for the kids to use in their bug class.

I walked out to the shop and my dogs were waiting, like sentinels, on either side of the door. At that point I knew something was wrong. I entered the building and there he was. Dave looked like he had fallen asleep. I knew.

Thursday night was the most terrible experience I've endured in my entire life. But in many ways this is also the most miraculous time of my entire existence. Things have happened for us this week that I have no explanation for. We are so surrounded by love. We were surrounded even as I found him. There are so many little things, too many to even begin listing that have to be miracles.

My God is a loving God. Sometimes bad things happen to good people. We'll never know why. It's a mystery. I'm ok with that.

You need to know that my burden is heavy. The words to Until It Sleeps say much more eloquently what is seething inside me than my words could ever convey. But every time I play that song and the grief almost overwhelms me my three year old comes running in the door singing, "Oh God is good to me..."

Always read scripture in context. Don't ever take someone else's interpretation of it. Think for yourself. With that admonishment I'd like to share Ezekiel 34:26, "I will send down showers in season; there will be showers of blessing." We are so blessed. Our family is surrounded by the love and the light that radiated from David- and his light shone bright, oh it was so bright. That light has not dimmed even though the body that housed it is no longer with us. And on Friday morning I cried as I stood where my husband had died and I sang the appleseed song.

Today when I thought that the monster inside me was going to be very hard to fight my three year old came every time I almost gave way and he sang, "Oh God is good to me..." A few times he just kept repeating those few words until I could smile and finish the song with him.

Never doubt that God is loving and merciful. Why did he choose now to call my husband home? It's a mystery. There are many mysteries in life. We're not meant to know everything. There isn't an answer we can understand for every question we ask.

Know. Know beyond a shadow of doubt. WE ARE LOVED.

Thursday night I was sitting next to an old friend from the days when I was a 4-H member. We watched a woman working with the kids who were learning how to run a meeting. She is so happy, and goofy, and amazing. Her light spills over and feeds the light inside all of the people in our club. Within the past few years she lost a son and had her other son's wife die- leaving two little boys without a mother. Brenda never talks during the meetings. On Thursday she leaned over and whispered, "I don't know how she gets out of bed in the mornings."

I can tell you how she gets out of bed in the morning. WE ARE LOVED.

This week people keep telling me, "You are the strongest woman I know." I'm not strong. I am weak. The beast stirs inside me. I feel it under my skin. And it hates you. Don't ask this week how I'm doing. I might tell you. You will be scarred. Because the beast stirs. But whenever the beast stirs my three year old comes running.

Oh God is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun, and the rain and the appleseeds. Oh God is good to me.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

One of the topics I rarely blog about is my husband. There's a reason for that. I never wanted to say something that I would regret later or anything that might embarrass him. Our relationship was still very new and very basic. There rarely was much to say that didn't directly relate to the intimacy of our marriage. Sometimes any information is too much information so I rarely shared much about Dave in this forum.

When people would talk about difficulties in their marriage I would listen and then wonder how people got themselves to this point in their relationships. Then I would remind myself that we're still relatively newlyweds and that maybe with a few more years and miles under our belts there would be more discord in our marriage too. We've only been married since the fourth day of November in 2000.

I cannot quite wrap my mind around the fact that I'm writing this in past tense. My husband, my love, passed away very unexpectedly the night before last. He always warned me that he would not be here forever- that the men in his family are not long lived. I believed him. I did not believe that I would be a widow before I turned thirty-five. I did not believe that there would be a day when I would be raising my young sons without their father.

This morning when I woke up there was no one there. I was alone in my bed. During the course of our marriage it was very rare to ever spend a night away from each other. Some years we didn't. Even in years that Dave worked out of town we rarely spent more than 10 nights in a year apart. Most years we were separated at night for one night when Chris and I would go to a rabbit show in Kennewick and stay over.

Having consciously chosen to keep my husband (for the most part) out of my blog means that most who read here don't know much of anything about him. Let's change that.

David Larry Anderson was born in Boise, ID on June 6th in 1970 to Larry and Patricia Anderson. He grew up in the town of Nampa and attended Nampa schools, graduating from Nampa High School in 1988. He was active in Boy Scouts and even spent a few summers working at the Boy Scout Camp (need to look up where). David was always interested in being outside and spent many happy weeks camping, fishing, hiking, and shooting. His favorite activity was shooting black powder revolvers.

On Nov. 4th, 2000 David married Janet Loucks in Nampa. They welcomed their first child, Christian, on Nov. 1st, 2001. Sam joined the family in 2004, and Jake was born in 2005. David lived for his family. There was nothing he would rather do than spend time with his wife and children. He was an amazing father and husband who was always actively involved in raising and caring for his family.

Nowhere on Earth was there a kinder, gentler, man than David.

He is survived by his parents; his wife Janet; his sons Chris, Sam, and Jake; his sister and brother in law Pam and Ciro Gaona and their children Ciro and Miranda, his brother and sister-in-law Andrew Anderson and Veronica Garcia and their son Noe, His sister Katie and brother-in-law David Tuft and their children Sophia and James.

At some point this morning I need to finish the obituary for the paper. He was so vital, and warm, and so large a part of our family that I am not sure how to consolidate all that he was into a few paragraphs that his friends and family can read in the newspaper. He is and always will be my love, and my husband, and he'll always carry a very large part of my heart with him.

I have talked with the pastor about some of my wishes for a funeral. All summer I've wondered why it was I felt so driven to write about Uncle K's funeral. This week I can approach funeral arrangements having already thought out what seems to provide the most comfort for our family.

There are three main points I'd like everyone to remember while mourning the passing of our friend and loved one: We are saved through grace, God has promised us life everlasting with him, and love endures. Even when we are no longer together here on Earth- love endures.

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Love never fails.

But where there are prophesies, they will cease; where there are tongues they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears.

When I was a child I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.

And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." (1 Cor. 13:4-13).

Everything I know of Dave boils down to love. He loved deeply, completely, without reservation, and forever. There is no doubt in my mind that his whole heart was given to loving his family and friends, the wild outdoors areas, and freedom. Never have I doubted his love, once given it is eternal. Love endures where the physical body cannot. Even now, I feel him around us- loving us.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Life in the Dining Room

Until recently most of our family meals were consumed in the kitchen. Our kitchen is fairly large and there is a butcher block table with four chairs that sits in the middle of the floor. We have two folding chairs that are stored in the laundry room that we bring out for meals. It's a little bit crowded to have six people sit down for meals in the kitchen, but the floor is linoleum and the clean-up is easy.

Earlier this summer Chris volunteered to set the table if we could start eating dinner in the dining room. Our dining room is carpeted and the antique Duncan Phyfe table combined with the white upholstery on the chairs made me leary of letting small children eat regular meals in that room. Chris was adament that this was something he wanted to try and the little boys were excited about setting the nice table and using the good placemats so I decided to let them eat Saturday dinners in the dining room and we would practice our "good" manners (instead of our evil manners).

After about three weeks of eating Saturday dinner in the dining room we started eating most dinners in there. Chris and Sam set the table every night (a new chore) and Jake takes out the salt and pepper and napkins.

In the beginning I thought it would be more work to eat in the dining room. I was scared the kids would make a mess and I'd wind up with even more stuff I had to do. It's actually easier than eating in the kitchen. We don't have to look at the mess left from cooking. I can move around the kitchen table without tripping over kids sitting in chairs waiting for me to serve food. The kids set the table. All I have to do is carry the plates to the table (we use Fiestaware and it's heavy). The boys love choosing which placemats we're using and which color plates we're eating on every night. They all know which side of the plate the forks go on and can usually place the salad and place forks correctly.

It's been a good thing. I'm glad that I gave in and let the kids fuss around with setting the dining room table. Dinner is actually less stressful and less work than it was while we were eating in the kitchen. We still eat breakfast and lunch in the kitchen, but there are fewer people being served for those meals and we are more informal. All three boys have gotten into the new routine. Chris and Sam have also started making the salad or vegetable for dinner. Setting the table has made them more aware of how many dishes need to be carried out before we can begin eating. They also realize that they can help more and by helping have more input about what we're eating.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Strength

In preparing to begin a new school year I've been spending a bit of time analyzing our goals. Of course each child has educational goals, but we also have parenting and life goals that should be evaluated as well. One word keeps popping up in my evaluations:

  • strength: Pronunciation: \ˈstreŋ(k)th, ˈstren(t)th\
  • Function: noun
  • 1 : the quality or state of being strong : capacity for exertion or endurance

2 : power to resist force : solidity, toughness
3 : power of resisting attack : impregnability
4 a : legal, logical, or moral force b : a strong attribute or inherent asset strengthsand the weaknesses of the book are evident
5 a : degree of potency of effect or of concentration strengths b : intensity of light, color, sound, or odor c : vigor of expression
6 : force as measured in numbers : effective numbers of any body or organization strength
7 : one regarded as embodying or affording force or firmness : support strength


My ultimate goal for each member of my family is strength. I want to raise these boys to become strong men. When the world changes around them I need them to be strong enough to deal with wise changes and to hold steady (even to the point of becoming counter-culture) against change that is occurring simply for the sake of change.

When their faith is tested (and you know it will be) I want them to be strong enough to look into other beliefs and question everything that they know... and then rebuild their faith based upon the truths they discover when their questions are answered.

When the media tells them what to believe and how to live I hope they will be intellectually strong enough to question the media sources, and the motives of individuals and companies backing the research leading to the "latest results."

When confronted with people and ideas foreign to them I hope my family has strength of compassion and character that allows them to see all individuals as equal and all viewpoints as valid- even when they disagree.

There is a movement afoot (not a new movement either) that believes it's in the best interest of our children to remove from public view everything that does not fit in with our own personal belief systems. That is a dangerous way of thinking. It removes individuals rights to liberty and personal expression. It suppresses art and political dissent. Perhaps most disturbing- it prevents our children from experiencing the opportunity to hone their judgement and truly embrace the morals and values we're trying to teach them.

What sort of future men and women are we raising if we truly believe that simply seeing others living and believing differently is a threat? Is it really a threat if women show a bit of cleavage or a lot of leg? Will it damage your children to see strangers drinking beer at a restaurant? Does having dinner with a gay couple actually have the power to destroy nuclear families?


Strength of character, intelligence, convictions, and faith is the most important thing I can teach my children. More important than reading, math, or science is strength. Less tangible, not quantifiable, and uncertain until tested is strength. Yet, I think it may be the most important asset of them all.



Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Struggles

Ok, we're back from our first meeting with our "contact" teacher. She's the person who will be coordinating our education efforts, monitoring how well we meet standards and benchmarks for the grade, etc, etc.

I really like our teacher. I don't really like the whole education process. One point that's bugging me immensely is the target reading fluency for second grade. By the end of the year my child should be able to read (out loud) 94 words/minute. If you've ever spoken with Chris you know that while he may talk non-stop he does not talk fast. I don't think he can say 94 words in a minute much less read 94 words out loud in a minute. I understand that it's progress the school is looking for. Progress is great. Progress is our goal. Setting an arbitrary standard (and yes, I do think it's pretty arbitrary) and then having to work toward it makes no sense to me. Shouldn't our goal be to have him improve fluency period. Goals are important. I'd like to set some goals that are more achievable and in line with my child's abilities.

My son has really poor fine and gross motor skills. His speech is greatly affected by lack of fine motor control. He speaks slowly, pendanticly, and in a monotone. One of the standards for second grade reading involves reading with appropriate expression. Does my child have to have an IEP in order to account for his lack of expression while reading or speaking? Will meeting once a week with the special ed director improve his motor skills, speech, and expressive abilities? I don't want to be running all over the valley to interventions again this school year. We've been there, done that, and don't have a lot of improvement to show for it.

Why is it so important that all stages of reading be taught with intensive writing? If the writing is physically very hard, shouldn't it move at a different pace than the reading? If my child has different challenges than the average child does that mean he needs to be in special education? Why isn't it enough that as a homeschooler he gets one on one time with his teacher? He makes so much progress every summer. Quatifiable, visible progress. During the school year he doesn't gain nearly as much in terms of skills or knowledge.

What's the difference between school time and summer time? We stay home in the summer and don't deal with interventions (expect speech). Could it be that all the time taken up by "special ed" actually leaves him farther behind? Is it possible that allowing him to remain focused on his daily routine is more beneficial than running around meeting with "experts?" By Jove, I think I've got it! If being part of the charter school means weekly meetings or interventions I don't think we want to participate in it.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

We Survived!






It was over 100 degrees for most of the 2009 Canyon County Fair & Festival. We spent all day, every day on the fairgrounds (except for Wednesday when we left about 5 pm). One rabbit died from the heat and the stress (not from our group, thank goodness!). On Saturday night the transformers at the edge of the fairgrounds blew after a car accident took a power pole down somewhere in town. Our goat was the closest living thing near the power pole when the sky lit up and slag started hitting the ground. A bit of grain helped him recover from the shock :-) The majority of the people in the pygmy goat barn stayed until power was restored in order to offer assistance if the rabbits had to be evacuated from their barn (since the rabbit barn is metal with no insulation- no air conditioning means dead rabbits once the sun is up). My quirky son signed himself up for the greased pig contest and a good time was had by all (no, he didn't get to touch the pig). Chris showed his guinea pig (I forgot the camera that day) and my mom's pygmy goat. He's all set to do it all over again next year and show his first market lamb!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Fair Banner, work in progress


Here's a picture of the banner I'm making for the pygmy goat kids to use over their pens. In case you're wondering- I do realize that font is hard to read and kind of weird looking. I'm just too cheap to go buy another set of stencils! Aren't the cows cute though? I love my happy cow fabric (Alexander Henry, In the Moood).

Friday, July 10, 2009

This is me

Sometimes it feels as if the individuals we encounter during our blog explorations have joined our circle of friends. Certainly there are several blogs that I read regularly and I hold their authors in high esteem and some days it feels as if I truly know them and they know me.

Today while reading blogs it occurred to me that most of you who read my blog really don't know me. If you judge who I am and what I'm interested in based solely on what you've read in my blog then you only know a very small bit about who I am.

Most of you probably don't really care about the bits I don't write. We really have a very superficial relationship. It's alright. I'm ok with that.

It should be apparent that first and foremost I'm a wife and mother. Whenever I have to fill out a form that asks for occupation I write "mom." This blog also reflects that I have an interest in cooking, sewing, and crafting. I think that most of what I blog about concerns one or more of the subjects I've listed so far.

The things I don't write about (at least not more than once a year) are politics (I'm ultra conservative- but if you've been reading for a while you know that), health (I have an autoimmune inflammatory arthritis), my dreams and ambitions (mostly on hold until I have time to list something other than "mom" under occupation), my childhood (I grew up on a small farm and my mother and grandfather both worked in academia. My father died when I was 22 months old), and my marriage (because marriage is private and I don't ever want my husband to wonder what I'm telling the world about him).

Rarely, if ever, do I write about the things I really dislike. I don't tell you (until today) that I hate stupid people. Oops, I've been trying to get my kids to quit using words like hate and stupid. What I really meant to say is: I have a strong dislike of dealing with people who are intellectually challenged. There are a lot of intellectually challenged people in the world. A lot of those people seem to have life paths that intersect mine on a regular basis.

I don't write about how much I really, really, really like science and math. My best friend thinks I'm weird because one of the things that draws me to quilt is that it satisfies the math part of my brain with it's planning, continuity, and rhythm. She's asked me to refer beginning quilting questions to her instead of scaring people by telling them how much quilting is like math :-) Science is life. Math is life. Everything in the universe when broken into it's component parts is math and science. I accidentally minored in chemistry during college (and purposely minored in biology, ecology, economics, and zoology). Discussing disease vectoring actually excites me. Just a warning... I enjoy discussing nutrition and one of my dreams is pursuing cancer research (there's this theory I have...).

When people meet me these days I am sure that what they see is an overweight, thirty-something, homeschooling, mother of three. I'm sure that it's not a suprise to anyone that I bake bread and make yogurt. It's not suprising that I can sew or even that I'm a 4-H leader. What might suprise you is that I think being conservative means making fewer rules and allowing other people to make their own choices. It might suprise people that not only can I sort out lambs during a difficult delivery, I can kill an animal if it's needed.

Today I usually wear jeans, knit shirts, and Birkenstocks. I grew up wearing jeans, knit shirts, and cowboy boots. My boots were fashionable (for boots) but they all had traces of manure on the soles and the heels were designed to keep my foot from slipping through the stirrup in the event my horse "got in a storm" (which means an animal moving quickly and not rationally placing it's body to avoid injuring itself or it's rider). My neck curves the wrong way coming out of my head because more than once in my life I've been thrown from a horse and landed uncomfortably. Every injury I ever aquired (except for skinned knees from the bike) was aquired while dealing with livestock.

When I was in high school I was very active in 4-H and FFA. As a freshman my horse judging team placed first at State FFA Contests and we went to Nationals. When I graduated from high school there were universities interested in me simply because of my competitive judging skills. I raised Suffolk sheep and showed Arabian horses (because that one Quarter Horse we had tried to kill me). During the course of my 4-H career I won almost every event I participated in at one time or another (not there weren't people who consistently beat me). Round Robin (where top showman from each species compete to be THE top showman. Large animal round robin is sheep, horses, beef cattle, dairy cattle, pigs, goats, and sometimes llamas. Small animal round robin is rabbits, cavies, poultry, pygmy goats, cats, and dogs) was my favorite event- except that I never did get the hang of either showing or judging swine. I was a District FFA officer, attained the State FFA Degree, and always placed 2nd in the parliamentarian contest at State FFA Convention.

The reason I don't write these things on the blog is because (having just looked over my post) it doesn't sound good. There are way to many "I"s. It's not polite. It looks remarkably like boasting :-) Tonight I don't care. I'm tired of listening to people talk about things they don't know anything about. I'm tired of having people assume that because I'm a stay at home mom I know nothing of the rest of the world. I really resent it when people assume that because my life moves at the pace of a three year old I only know what a three year old knows. It really bothers me when men make the assumption that I must not have an intelligent opinion because I'm a wife and mother (and don't have a penis- thank God). In general I am really amused by people who keep saying, "I'm intelligent," If you're intelligent you shouldn't have to tell people- they should be able to figure it out without you labeling yourself for them.

What I'd really like you all to know is that I am more than a wife and mother. My world does not begin and end with potty training and bread baking. There is more going on in my head than laundry detergent recipes and methods of teaching reading. Please don't underestimate my intelligence or ability to assimilate and analyze data. In return I will try to remember that all of you most likely do not blog about everything going on in your heads either. We all have areas of our life we choose to share with the world. That doesn't mean that our worlds hold only the things we write about.

Fairtime, fairtime

This is our last week to get everything wrapped up with our 4-H projects. Interview evaluations are on Monday, July 13th. Chris will be doing an interview this year. It's still optional to have Cloverbuds interview but I think the practice will be good for him. Next year he'll be a regular 4-Her and the interview will be required.

Chris will be entering a cake in the fair since he attended all the cake decorating meetings. Family, Consumer Science and misc. projects check into the fair on Monday, July 20th. He'll also be showing a pygmy goat and a guinea pig. They check in on the 21st. Goats show the afternoon of the 22nd. Rabbits and Cavies show the morning of the 23rd. The fat stock sale is the 24th and Chris would like to be a runner during that event. Our club picnic is the 25th and we also get to go home that evening.

I'm the leader for cake decorating, rabbits, and cavies. For some reason I also agreed to help with the cloverbud project this year. Next year I would like to send my small animal kids to a leader in Middleton and switch my focus towards the sheep project. Chris will have a market lamb next year and since sheep are my first love- that's the project I'd like to work with. Cake decorating has been so much fun and I've learned so much- I'd like to offer it again next year. Hopefully there will be some members interested in taking the project!

Today, I am tired. I can hardly wait for fair to be over! Chris is excited and can't understand why I'm not as happy as he it that it is fair time. My mother is pleased to see the experience coming full circle since she still remembers the days when I was a 4-Her and she was tired.

I've been thinking a lot about some of my 4-H leaders and how mcuh they impacted my life. Steve and Tish Oki were amazing, kind, wise people. My life is different and I am a better person because they were in my life. It's been several years since they died and I still miss them. It's my hope that I can make a difference in the lives of my members too. Unfortunately I'm not as amazing, kind, or wise as Steve and Tish were. Here's hoping age and maturity improve me :-)

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Ahh... the relaxing, quiet, days of summer

We are a 4-H family. Some families are sports families. Some are video game families. Some are simply TV watching families. We are a 4-H family.

What does that mean? It means many things and at any given time of the year my answer to that question may be different. Right now, today, the beginning of July, it means that fair is quickly approaching and our time is filled with record books, project meetings, and discussions about exhibits and showmanship.

We knew when our 4-H year began (October 1st each year) what the fair dates would be. We knew. It's written on all of our 4-H calendars and published each month in the Lines for Leaders newsletter mailed out from the extension office. Yet, come June every year we run around like chickens with their heads cut off trying to make sure we've met all the project requirements, completing our record books, and preparing for fair. I think it's a possibility that 99% of all 4-Hers are procrastinators (and so are their leaders).

About this time every summer I begin to question whether I'm willing to be a 4-H leader next year. I question my own organization, teaching abilities and methods, and wonder how I could have forgotten to include subjects n and x during project meetings this year. I fear that my kids won't be prepared for competition and that their embarrassment will be all my fault.

I forget that as a leader I am responsible for assisting the members in my projects. Assisting. There are members who always ask questions and seek out knowledge and experience on their own. They gain skills and knowledge in the gap between meetings. They attend functions other than club meetings, like shows and contests, and through experience their skill set expands.

Then there are the members who only attend meetings (and don't make it to every meeting). They don't go to the shows and contests that occur during the year. Their skill set is developed during our project meetings. Their skills don't change much from meeting to meeting. I feel more responsibility to them because everything they know comes to them through me. But I can't teach everything in a year. Expertise comes through repeatedly experiencing and participating in activities and events that build their skills.

I can only assist. Ask me a question. I'll tell you where to look to find answers. Work with me. Come to meetings and participate. Participate physically as well as mentally because knowing isn't as important as doing. Through doing you'll gain the knowledge. You'll also gain confidence in your own ability to learn and succeed. If you let me, I will help you, but I can't do it for you.Remember that you are in charge of your own learning experience. I'm the assistant.

I wish we'd learned more about diseases this year- but we had one member show up at the January meeting and one member show up at the February meeting where we would normally discuss health and diseases. I wish we'd butchered a rabbit this year, but we're really out of time. I wish all of my rabbit and cavy members had attended an open show this year. The opportunity was there, but only one member participated in the local open show. I wish the members understood that in order to really master this subject they have to immerse themselves within the industry in some way. They don't have to own 40 animals and breed them, but it would be great if they looked for opportunities to handle and examine as many animals as they can find.

I wish that I didn't feel as if the desire to learn about this project means that mastery of the subject is the ultimate goal. I wish that I could relax and accept that mastery comes over time and one year is not much time to spend learning. I wish that parents would also relax and look for mastery over time instead of mastery by fair time.

4-H isn't about the fair. 4-H isn't about winning. 4-H isn't even about the record books.

4-H is about building life skills. It's about making goals and incrementally meeting those goals. It's about teamwork and cooperation and learning how to learn. It's about sportsmanship and responsibility. It's about giving your best effort. Some days it's simply about showing up.

All year long we've shown up. We've put in time every month working on this project. We've worked with members of three different 4-H clubs. We've formed friendships. We've learned not to brush our teddies. We've learned to bring ice bottles with our rabbits during summer travel. We've filled out camp scholarship applications. We've learned to fill out entry forms and record books. We've learned to pose our animals.

Fair is coming. 4-H isn't about the fair.


Friday, June 26, 2009

My kids are weird

I was late getting dinner on the table tonight because I got distracted playing in the garden (with Dave). Apparently the children were hungry (there was shredded BBQ beef in the crockpot- I just needed to make buns, cook a veggie, and set the table). Chris joined us in the garden with a bowl in his hand. I didn't think much of it until I made it back into the house to complete dinner prep.

Chris was sitting at the kitchen table with Jake and they were sharing a salad. The salad was full of beet greens and bok choy, butter bib lettuce, nasturtium flowers, tiny carrots, chives, parsley, and basil. It looked kinda weird. However, they'd sprayed it with balsamic viniagrette and were chowing down on the strange greens while they waited for me to finish cooking.

I've heard that kids on the Austism spectrum are picky eaters, rigid in their likes and dislikes, afraid or unable to try new things. Not Chris. If it's green- he'll eat it. If it grows in the garden- he'll eat it. If we see it in the grocery store and it looks interesting- he'll eat it. I know fairly normal grown-ups who don't eat as varied a diet as my children do.

People sometimes ask me how I get my kids to eat vegetables. The only answer I can come up with is- I simply don't care whether they eat them or not. I eat vegetables (but I truly don't like root veggies, which my kids all love). I serve vegetables at least twice a day, fruit three or four times a day. We're always looking for new ways to cook or serve veggies.

The kids enjoy helping in the garden and watching the vegetables grow. I think this makes them naturally curious and open to eating the product of their toil (bet you thought I'd never use that FFA Creed ever again, huh?). We start seeds on the patio in March and then move them to the garden the middle of May. Sam only cares about pumpkins and squash. He doesn't participate with the rest of the garden (but we do have about 16 mounds of cucubit type plants). Jake doesn't really work in the garden, but he likes to help harvest stuff. Chris has his own grow box and portions of two others that he cares for on his own (and he is much more conscientious than I am about caring for the garden).

Every trip to the grocery store we try to bring home something we've never tried before. Sometimes it's a vegetable. Sometimes it's a cut of meat. Sauces, condiments, and ethnic foods have all found their way onto our pantry shelves where they're rapidly consumed. Trying new things has become an adventure, quest, and lifestyle for our family. In the beginning I made up the "adventure" as a way to keep my mind from stagnating (any more than it already had). I needed a challenge that required me to flex my mind without taking any more time or energy than I was already spending caring for my family and house.

Now, seven years later, we see the result of my challenge. My children are weird. But they're weird in a good way and even though I catch myself laughing at them (often) I really enjoy the little people they're becoming.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Classrooms of the Heart

I saw this video on Barbara Frank's blog (barbarafrankonline.com) and liked it so much I copied it so that any of you who don't already read Barbara's blog will have an opportunity to watch.

Gatto's teaching philosophy resonates particulary with me because much of what he is saying about educating teens and teaching real responsibility is exactly what our teens experience through participation in 4-H.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Hmmm.... recipes?

Chris found a brand new (albeit broken) recipe binder in the garage today. He's fascinated with all the dividers, the recipe sheets, and the binder itself.

I've had a hard time getting Chris to read and practice his writing lately. Here's my newly hatched (and now documented) plan for summer instruction. Two days a week Chris will help make a meal (whichever meal he'd like to cook during the day). Before he gets to cook he has to locate a recipe he'd like to try.

Ok, here's the educational, language arts, genius part of the idea: He must copy the recipe into his binder.

After a whole summer of cooking he should have a good grasp of copying measurements and words. Following directions in sequential order, double checking measurements, using measuring tools, learning cooking terminology... what a treasure chest full of new skills he can gain by the end of the season. Plus, this is a great opportunity to learn how to prepare some of the vegetables he's growing in his very own garden plot.

Here's hoping mom has the discipline to follow through on this one. Some days it's just so much easier to do everything (especially cooking and cleaning related things) myself. Keep us in your prayers and hopefully the whole family will survive this experience!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Parsnips


Night before last Chris stayed up late and watched "Good Eats" with me. I love Alton Brown (in a purely innocent way). He explains the food chemistry behind cooking. "Good Eats" is my version of continuing education :-) On Friday the show was about hiding vegetables in tasty foods that kids will eat. I admit to some curiosity although I have been known to tell my kids to eat some tator tots before they can have thirds of the brussels sprouts or broccoli (mainly because I wanted to eat more of the brussels sprouts or broccoli).

Alton introduced us to the world of parsnips. He made muffins, fries, and a pear/parsnip puree. Chris watched the entire episode with me. Upon completion he says, "Mom, let's buy some parsnips." Last week Chris wanted to choose his own vegetable while we were grocery shopping. Of course I gave permission. There was a clerk in the produce section stocking cucumbers. You should have seen him do a double take when Chris very confidently chose turnips for his vegetable. He asked if Chris liked turnips and Chris told him that he'd never tried them before but had heard they were good (God only knows who told him that).

This week I went grocery shopping by myself, but I did remember to put parsnips on the list. During the show Alton jokes about stashing them around his kitchen so that he never runs out. I thought of that as I selected eight tuberous specimens. The kids were excited to find new veggies as they helped me put away groceries. I had planned on experimenting with them Monday or Tuesday. By dinner time last night (the groceries came home at 3:30pm, we eat at 6:30) we were down to two and a half parsnips- because the kids ate them raw.

I quickly threw together a batch of muffins, substituting parsnips for fruit. The kids ate them for dessert and again this morning. Perhaps having a stash of this vegetable on hand is a good idea. They're somewhat sweet like carrots, but they also taste a bit like celery and radish- except mild. I guess what I'm saying is: They taste like parsnips and parsnips are good.

Also, beware of what your children watch on tv because they are being trained to become little consumers. I think that watching Alton exclaim over the delights of eating this vegetable made my children view them favorably before they ever even tasted a parsnip. The power of advertising is huge and we frequently take it for granted. So... long live the parsnip! It must be good, because Alton said so :-)


Thursday, June 11, 2009

The Wackiest Wildest Weirdest Animals in the World- by Jack Hanna


Yesterday we received, "The Wackiest, Wildest, Weirdest Animals in the World," by Jack Hanna, published by Thomas Nelson. I didn't get the opportunity to look at the book until this evening because my children have been fighting over it for the past day. "The Wackiest Wildest Weirdest Animals in the World" is a big hit with the seven and under crowd living here! Some of the animals covered were very familiar to the family (like lions and ostrich). A couple of the animals (like Bongo) we'd never heard of before. Our kids were definately motivated by the beautiful pictures to read to themselves and find out more about the animals.

Included with the book is a DVD of bloopers from Jack Hanna's TV show. My kids weren't terrifically enthralled with the DVD, but I enjoyed it :-) I'd recommed this book to anyone with younger children.

Exposure - by Brandilyn Collins


I loved this book! All week I kept trying to get into a romance I'd agreed to review and this book sat on my side table, tempting me. Finally, I put the other book aside and started reading Exposure, written by Brandilyn Collins, published by Zondervan. I couldn't put it down. Kaycee Raye lives in fear of unknown people watching her every move. She knows the fear is irrational. It's something she picked up from her mother, who had the same fear. Except- what if her fears aren't irrational? What if someone really is out there? Watching her? Moving things in her house? Leaving vanishing pictures of a dead man in her home?

Exposure is very well written. The suspense kept me on the edge of my seat throughout the entire book. There are no "slow" chapters. Brandilyn Collins has written an amazing action packed story that I highly recommend to anyone interested in mystery/suspense. I'll certainly be looking for more stories written by this author!

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Makes me laugh!

This isn't even remotely politically correct, but it made me laugh so hard my sides hurt! I apologize in advance to any new fathers who may read my blog (although I'm betting there aren't any).

Sunday, May 31, 2009

American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America, Richard G. Lee (editor)

I was so excited waiting for delivery of "American Patriot's Bible: The Word of God and the Shaping of America," edited by Richard G. Lee and published by Thomas Nelson. When the box arrived it was surprisingly heavy. This Bible (NKJV) is hardcover, 9.1 x 7.4 x 1.9 inches in size, and has a shipping weight of 3.7 pounds. My first impression of the book was that it was too large to become a handy reference or to take with me for casual reading.

When I requested this book I was hoping to find that it used biblical references to uphold the principles of liberty and democracy that are the cornerstones of American government. Instead, as I read, this Bible gave me an unsettling view of America as God's promised land. I am both a patriot and a Christian, but the concept that we are special and blessed by God above other nations makes me feel very uncomfortable.

There are lots of interesting historical tidbits scattered throughout this edition. I think the overall effectiveness of this Bible would be improved if it were split into a two book set- the NKJV Bible and a companion book with all of the historical tidbits, speech excerpts, and other commentary. While the "American Patriot's Bible" is advertised as a study bible, I don't think it really is. Instead it is a collection of short biographies, parts of speeches, and historical trivia compiled between the pages of the Bible.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

What is marriage?

______, I take you to be my wife/husband from this time onward, to join with you and to share with you all that is to come: to give and to receive, to speak and to listen, to inspire and to respond, and in all circumstances of our life together to be loyal to you with my whole life and all my being, until death parts us. -adapted from the Lutheran Book of Worship

How do you define marriage? I'm not talking about the Prop 8 debate. What I would really like to know is how you define your marriage. What is important to you? Why did you get married? How did you choose your mate? What value do you place on marriage? Does religion or faith affect your view of marriage?

Our marriage occurred on Nov. 4, 2000 in a Lutheran Church. We formed a covenant marriage which includes three individuals- Dave, me, and God. Faith does figure into our marriage. It was (and is) important to me to have God as part of our relationship. Together, the three of us, can handle any challenges.

Legally, all of our assets are combined (although Dave keeps telling me that in the event of a divorce he gets to keep my college dishes- since I gave them to him while we were dating when I bought new ones). We share our bank accounts, our pantry, responsibility for our children, housework, yardwork, and cheesecake. There is not much individual ownership within our household. Within the confines of our own walls we are a benevolent socialist dictatorship. Dave and I make the laws, most goods are shared, individuals recieve commodities based on their needs rather than their contribution to the household (everyone contributes to the household).

After almost nine years of marriage we are no longer newlyweds. Life has sometimes been challenging, sometimes fun, sometimes sleep deprived, and always joyful (except when it's not). We had our first child right before our first anniversary (missed it by three days!). Our third child was born two weeks before our first kid turned four. That means we have not spent a lot of time alone during our marriage. I think our biggest challenge will come when the kids leave home and we're simply a husband and wife instead of Dad and Mom.

I love my husband and love does enter into our marriage. We have been growing children for all but 3 months of our marriage, but I don't think marriage is about the children- they're just a byproduct of our union (wow, that sounds vaguely pornographic).

Marriage is a relationship more enduring than mere friendship. We are committed for life and beyond to this individual we each chose back when we were young, thin, and lacking maturity. Together we have grown, changed, and endured. Endurance sounds bleak and a bit harsh, but it isn't. Endurance is what it's all about.


Jake camping in the living room

Jake camping in the living room