We need to demand better

Categories: Random

I love Christmas music. But I refuse to listen to it on the radio. Because I hate crappy Christmas music. And there’s too much crappy Christmas music on the radio. And it’s your fault.

When I first arrived in Brasil as a missionary I was introduced to the dessert “pudim de leite,” a type of flan. And it was heavenly. I have never had a non-chocolate dessert that was so absolutely delicious. I loved it whenever anyone would fix it for us when we came for lunch.

And then about half-way through my mission I developed a discerning palate and realized that not all pudim de leite was created equal, that not everyone knew how to make it. I started being able to tell the difference between good pudim and bad pudim. And it wasn’t that exciting when people who were only so-so at making it made it for us.

The problem with Christmas music is that every December it’s like we’re being introduced to it for the first time and we (the general public) think all of it is awesome and we love hearing it all the time. And then December is over relatively quickly and we are never given the chance to develop a discerning palate for Christmas music and realize that not all of it is created equal and that not everyone knows how to sing it (or even write a few of the songs). We don’t get the chance to learn to tell the difference between good Christmas music and bad Christmas music because we (the general public) have a very short memory. And because we have that short memory rather than a discerning palate the radio stations can play all kinds of crappy Christmas music for us and we don’t care because Christmas music!

The solution is definitely not to play Christmas music year round because that would make it not fun and special. But there has to be a way to stop them (the radio stations) from force feeding us crappy Christmas music every year.

In the mean time we’ve pulled our favorites together into our own playlist and will be boycotting the radios through the end of the holiday season.

What are your favorite Christmas songs? What songs deserve a lump of coal?

Adventure bags

Categories: Life

I bought myself a new backpack at the start of the academic year this year, a JanSport Splice backpack. It was the first backpack I’ve purchased in almost twenty years. My old backpack, an older version of the JanSport Right Pack backpack (back before lap top sleeves were things people thought about), is still usable. I had a lot of academic (and other) adventures with it. It saw me through the bulk of my bachelor’s degree and both of my graduate degrees. But now I’m having adventures of a different sort and found myself needing more than just the basic three pockets that one had.

My current bag has two side pockets for water bottles and/or burp rags. It has two small front pockets with a camera and hanky in one and other first-aid style things in the other. It has a “lap top” pocket that is the perfect place to put two muslin blankets. It has a front pocket to keep books, hand sanitizer, sun screen, pacifier, and other smaller items. And it has a large pocket perfect for three sets of diapers, a changing pad, wipes, a munchie mug, a baby-wrap-carrier, and a few toys. My backpack has to carry not just my supplies for adventures now, but the supplies for three other people as well.

Iddo has a pack-pack that she carries for adventures too. On occasion I’ll pack it for her to make sure it has things she’ll actually want/need at our destination (like when we go to church). But mostly she just likes to bring her pack-pack because Momma and Daddy always take their pack-packs when we go places so I let her put whatever she wants to in there. Part of the fun for me is seeing what she thinks she’ll need on our adventures. Once that meant she brought all 18 of our crocheted rainbow sorting balls. Another time she brought all the contents of our ball basket. She brings books on a regular basis and that makes me happy too.

The contents of my new backpack are going to change over the years. It’s going to be fun to see what kind of adventures we have with it.


Categories: Family, Happy Things

In another two months Brett and I will have known each other for ten years. Two weeks ago we celebrated our sixth anniversary.

Brett inspires me. He complements me. He challenges me. He supports me. He gets me. He encourages me.

He is the best father my children could want and watching him step into the role has been like watching a (galactic) duck take to water – he’s a natural.

He is my greatest blessing and I thank God daily that he is in my life.


Create your reality

Categories: Family, Life

Wednesday’s this month I’ve been blogging about craft projects. Tonight I wanted to blog about how I’ve finally managed to finish Shimri’s and Shimei’s baby quilts, but they aren’t finished yet. I did get them both basted and got the border on Shimri’s quilted today. I’d like to get Shimei’s border quilted and the binding basted on tomorrow, but we shall see. Since I’m not blogging about finished quilts, I thought I’d blog about the stress I created by trying to finish them.

In a large sense we create our own realities. We can’t control the actions of others, but we can control how we react and our own actions.

Today I created quite a bit of stress for myself. I do that sometimes. It’s not my brightest idea. I’ve prided myself on how calm and relaxed the holidays have been in the past because I set realistic expectations and don’t over plan everything. I’ve worked out the Thanksgiving cooking so that the food is all ready at the same time and we sit down to eat with a clean kitchen too.

And then this year we have a 2-year-old who wants to help cook everything and two 7-month-olds (tomorrow) who need to eat a lot, be put down for naps, have their diapers changed, and be played with and held. I already did one round of dishes today with Shimri tied to my back

Cooking with the 2-year-old is actually a lot of fun. Today we learned about yeast when we woke it up with some hot water and then gave it sugar to eat. She knows that when we make bread dough that after we mix it we need to cover it with a blanket (dish towel) and let it take a nap before we cook it too. And today we made it fancy and made cinnamon rolls with it. Tomorrow we’ll make dinner rolls. She really loves helping us cook. Which means scheduling making certain things around her interest and nap schedule.

All of that, wanting to get the quilts done, the house cleaned, update our hand print Thanksgiving table runner, and cook the food for tomorrow that doesn’t need to be cooked tomorrow cooked today, added up to me getting frustrated and resentful this evening. And when I finally calmed down enough to realize what I was resenting, it was myself. I resented the fact that I’d created such an unrealistic to-do list for myself. Not everything got done and I wasn’t recognizing what I actually did accomplish.

So I sat in the dark and nursed the babies to sleep, had some yummy cinnamon rolls and enjoyed a glass of eggnog with Brett.

My reality is three kids who I love so much it hurts some times. Tomorrow we’ll get the food cooked by dinner time. I’ll vacuum at least the floor the babies spend most of their time crawling around on so they don’t eat the fuzz on it. We’ll do one last round of “Thankfuls” before dinner and see what Iddo is thankful for this time. And I’ll make sure that the reality I create for the Christmas season this year is more realistic than the reality I tried to create for Thanksgiving Eve today.

And viewers like you. Thank you.

Categories: Learn Something

There’s something wonderful about sitting around the table with your whole family. It hit something deep down when we sat Shimri and Shimei at the table with us for the first time and I looked around at our family of 5 all at the table. But there are still certain meals, like tater tots and hot dogs, that just seem to want to be eaten while watching TV. For a while we were watching TV series via DVD during dinner. But then it became clear that Iddo was paying a little too close attention to them and we need to put those on hold while the kids are up for a while. So what were we to do?

We opted for PBS.

Every three weeks when I take the kids to the library I pick up a NOVA series or two for us to watch in the evenings. It’s been a lot of fun. We’re not sure how much Iddo is learning, but she enjoys it and we’ve sure learned a lot.

We started with a National Geographic series called “In the Womb.” One of the episodes is about multiples births and since we have our own set of multiples we were interested in that. The whole series was fascinating.

Next up was Ken Burns “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” That was long, but was a real interesting look at American history. We’re going to be going to Yellow Stone National Park next year and might check the series out again before that trip as a refresher on the history of the area. We’ve also decided to see how many of the National Parks we can visit as a family. If we ever want to take a trip and don’t have a particular destination in mind we’ll just check out our list of ones we haven’t been to.

The next two taught us about the earth – “Earth: A New Wild” and “Earth From Space” (or as Iddo called it, Space from Earth). These were amazing! “A New Wild” was a conservationist talking not about how humans are ruining the planet, but how humans working smarter, in partnership with the wild, can help make the planet a better place for humans and animals to live. If you ask us about what we’ve been watching/learning lately, we’re probably going to bring that one up. The latter was all the things we’ve learned about weather and climate from the different satellites we’ve put into orbit around the planet. They trace temperatures, oxygen levels, dust molecules, and so many other things that really expand our understanding of this planet.

While watching “Australia’s First 4 Billion Years” we decided that you need to be Australian to make the phrase “4 billion years” sound cool. It just isn’t cool when we say it. But Australia has the interesting characteristic of having a record of the world back to the oldest rocks. We learned about super-continents, mass extinctions, the evolution of life. I showed of my knowledge of trilobites, mainly that I can recognize them by sight.

Mt St. Helens: Back from the Dead,” about how the wildlife came back after the last big eruption, was interesting. But since it was only a 1 hour show and we were used to series it seemed real short.

Becoming Human: Unearthing Our Earliest Ancestors” was an interesting look at the discoveries that have been made about all the pre-human species on this earth. There are apparently people who specialize their studies in brain casts and in making stone tools. There’s a specialty for everyone. We learned that our bones contain a record of everything we’ve ever eaten and that tooth enamel grows with our circadian rhythms and you can tell how many days a person has been alive by counting the bumps in their enamel (something that I’m sure graduate students and not the professors are doing).

Shortly after starting “The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha” we realized that we’d seen it before when it was first broadcast. But it was interesting to watch again anyway. I love the Dali Lama. I find the Buddha mentality and way of life to be very appealing.

Pale Male” was a Nature show about the red-tailed hawk that took up residence in New York City. New Yorkers can be a strange group.

Currently we’re watching “How We Got to Now,” the story of six facets of our modern world we don’t give much thought about but which greatly influence our life. So far we’ve only watched the episode about clean but we’ve already turned to each other more than once and wondered why we didn’t know that particular bit of history, like the creation of the sewers in Chicago or why soap operas are called soap operas.

Libraries are awesome. I’ve tagged enough PBS shows to keep us in tater tot and hot dog dinners (other dinners, like pizza, call for PBS too, we don’t have tater tots and hot dogs every week) for a while. We’re learning about animals, dinosaurs, babies, earth, and history. Iddo is learning to recognize the Buddha in every one and that none of this would be possible without viewers like you. Thank you.


Categories: Family

Someone recently asked Brett if I am able to be at home with our kids. We liked the use of the word “able.” It is a privilege, one not everyone is able to have. But I am blessed to have that option. And it works better in our house because of it. We know it takes both of us to make this house run smoothly. Brett makes sure we have a house to begin with, keeps the kitchen neat and clean, and gets Iddo up and ready for the morning and puts all three kids down for bed. I handle general cleaning, laundry, and keeping the kids alive and entertained during the day. Iddo looks at me weird if ever I have to get her up or handle bed time because I’m definitely doing it wrong no matter how much I try to do it exactly like Dad. And while the laundry wouldn’t give Brett funny looks, it would take too long to explain my process to him for him to do it the way I do. The kids are growing into jobs at home but right now Iddo is in charge of witty sayings, Shimei is in charge of laughs and giggles, and Shimri is in charge of ponderous looks. It takes all of us to make our house work the way it does and I’m grateful my part is based solely at home.

Nearer My God to Thee

Categories: Gospel

Some hymns have always been favorites of mine. This is one of them. I love the connection with the story of Jacob from the Old Testament. I love the pleading in the music itself. And then BYU Vocal Point went and arranged it with Latin as well. Their version gives me chills every time.

It’s good even as an all cello piece.

The version I sing for Shimei isn’t nearly as intricate, but I hope he can sense the meaning and feeling in it.

May your Sabbath draw you nearer to God.