Mean People... well, you know...

Yeah, they do.

Maybe I'm being too general. I should probably say that wantonly destructive people... siphon? Create a vacuum? You know what I mean. And boy, I'm pretty hacked off at them right now.

My kids have stood aghast as they looked out the window at a toppled snowman. I have blinked my eyes in disbelief as I have surveyed blossoms cut off of stems in my garden. The side of the neighboring apartment building is "tagged". The picket fence has slats routinely kicked out of place.

This morning I got into work and found that someone had attacked the rare cactus that I had been growing next to the windows in the hall. The tallest shoot was snapped about two-and-a-half feet from the base of the plant. Some kid must have gotten a kick out of breaking someone else's property on the way to class this morning. Maybe he was venting off steam for not being prepared for a quiz? Who knows? Why do people do things like this?

[deep breath]

I was hoping to get a bloom. Poor Epiphyllum oxypetalum--it never saw it coming...

Life-changing link #2: blogger.com

Wow! This is the 82nd post to Eastern Blog Country. What is really interesting, though, is that this is the 41st post for November. Since Tamara has hopped on the blogging bandwagon at the beginning of the month and we made the switch to blogger.com, posts to EBC have increased remarkably, and we have a full half of our posts for this year in November!

I have enjoyed putting up photos and news online since January. It has been nice to have such an easy format by which to share the happenings here in Worcester with my family out West. Blogging has even helped me retain my sanity when I have been in situations that were difficult for me to deal with, including when Tamara went to visit her folks for a week, and when I was coping with the first stages of my new diet.

I think that Tamara now has caught on to how much fun this can be, too. We both enjoy feeling more connected to our friends and family that live far away. Our web log is also a journal of sorts, and it feels good to chronicle our family's adventures and drollery of everyday life in the Jones household.

As I mentioned above, EBC has migrated to blogger.com, which I have sometimes referred to by the outdated "blogspot.com". I started my blog on Clark University's web server in tandem with the website that I had been maintaining since before we moved out to Massachusetts. Moving over to blogger.com has made a huge difference. While I occasionally miss the elasticity of being able to easily change code for my entire site, the ease of use of blogger.com has eliminated the tedium of scrutinizing lines of html and effectively changed the frequency of my posts and finally dispelled the remaining technological bogeymen that kept my esteemed coauthor from joining me initially on the blog.

No mention of how blogger.com has changed my life would be complete without including a plug for my friend's blog. Angie Lee is the sanity behind the craziness of Seven Clown Circus, which blog eventually convinced me that I should make the switch to blogger.com. Thanks, Angie!

Life-changing link #1: ReadtheScriptures.com


My many names

Last school year I started volunteering in the elementary school library and I'm doing it again this year. It's been fun to see my children in their school environment and to meet their little friends.

I think, however, that my favorite part about it is hearing what the little school children call me. Last year I learned to answer to "Hello, Anthony's mom" or "Hello Natalie's mom" and occasionally there was a "Hello Michaela's Mom" but since they are bigger kids they pretty much just stick to Mrs. Jones.

A few weeks ago one of Anthony's classmates called me Mrs. Anthony which made me smile as I tried real hard not to laugh. I thought it was really cute but figured a 2nd grade boy would be embarrassed if I thought he was cute!

Even though these names have made me smile and occasionally laugh, today topped it all! After reading a story to the preschool class one little boy was trying to get my attention to tell me something. It took me a little bit to realize he was talking to me because he was calling me Mrs. Library. I think that one is my all time favorite!


We're Elinor Dashwood but still Smart Americans

Oh, another quiz, this time with Tamara and I getting the same result. [giggle]

I am Elinor Dashwood!

Our friend, Angie, apparently got the same result.

Take the Quiz here!

Tamara and I are also smart Americans.

You Are a Smart American
You know a lot about US history, and you're opinions are probably well informed.
Congratulations on bucking stereotypes. Now go show some foreigners how smart Americans can be.
Are You a Dumb American?

I'm an action movie!

So, Tamara and I took some quizzes this evening to find out which classic movies we are most like.



What Classic Movie Are You?

Yo mama!

My mom called earlier tonight to tell me that she got the cutest little ringtone from phonezoo.com.

Thanks mom! Now I have a new ringtone.

Create free Ringtones at Phonezoo

Killy Billy

I had an "incident" the other day with Billy from Apple's iTunes Support. It's far enough behind me now that I can almost laugh. Almost...

I couldn't delete something from my shopping cart. No big deal--it could have sat there indefinitely without ruining my digital music experience. I had plenty of other stuff in my cart. In fact, I had been placing cool songs in my cart for about a year and a half and had easily over one hundred tracks in my shopping cart awaiting the day when I had $0.99 to download a song or $1.99 to download a video. The occasional dollar actually did pop up, and I was slowly expanding my music library.

A little thought coalesced in my mind. "Wow! There could be other people who really need to get something out of their shopping cart. This is an opportunity to help my favorite company improve their service by reporting a bug. How awesome!"

So I sent a message to iTunes Support:

can't delete Zuma (an iPod game) from my shopping cart

delete button doesn't work

delete key doesn't work

TrackID: 4473461

I felt good. "Maybe this will help them polish an already almost perfect application."

The next day I got an email:

Dear Jeremiah,

My name is Billy and I sincerely apologize for any inconvenience this issue may have caused. You should now be able to sign in to the iTunes Store and access your shopping cart.

Please note that it was necessary to clear the contents of your shopping cart to resolve the issue you have been experiencing. Due to your cart's inaccessibility, I am unable to provide a list of its contents.

If you have been using your shopping cart as a wish list, you may want to create a playlist with a list of the songs you want from the iTunes Store. You can add song previews to an existing playlist or create a new iTunes playlist to use as your wish list.

For more information on wish lists, please refer to the following article:

Making an iTunes Store wish list

Thank you for choosing the iTunes Store. Have a wonderful day Jeremiah.


iTunes Store Customer Support

"Wait! I didn't say anything about login issues!"

I quickly opened up iTunes only to find that my entire collection of potential downloads had, indeed, been obliterated.

[mild expletive in Russian]!

There was no warning shot over the bow. No kindly inquiry as to whether or not I would like to make some alternate list to document my stash of songs that I might eventually pay Apple to download to my computer for my future listening enjoyment.

I sneeringly bobbed my head up and down and mouthed "Oh, and if you've been using your cart as a wish list--TOO BAD! Better luck next time."

Yes--luckily for Billy, I'm beyond feeling hurt about this. It's all water under the bridge. I have made a wish list on my computer that only I can delete. I've started to add back the tracks that I can remember from the previous list. I'm up to about 60 songs--some from the other list and some new ones.

I even made a happy little graphic here for Billy.

Life-changing link #1: ReadtheScriptures.com

My modern mantra: Technology rocks!

That little voice in my head says it over and over. Technology rocks! Technology rocks! Technology rocks! I'm not trying to convince myself. I'm reveling in the coolness of all my beloved gadgets, gismos, wikis, blogs, and websites. In fact, you could take away most of the other geek bling items: iPhone, laser cutting tools, fog guns, and robots, and just leave me the websites. I firmly believe that proper manipulation of cleverly designed websites can change my life.

At the risk of sounding like LeVar Burton, I'm going to certify that you don't have to take my word on it--you can see for yourself.

As I came up with the idea to post something about the websites that have changed my life, I was initially stumped about which site I should feature first. I started thinking about a post on Seven Clown Circus by my friend, Angie. She quoted Cicero as saying, ""A room without books is like a body without a soul." That really got me thinking, and I realized that the most profound changes in my life have occurred subsequent to my reading a book. Thoreau put it this way:

"How many a man has dated a new era in his life from the reading of a book?"

That narrowed the field substantially, and I was impressed to share with you a website that has helped me become more familiar with the books that have most changed my life -- ReadtheScriptures.com.

ReadtheScriptures.com offers a free scheduled reading service for people interested in staying on top of their study of the standard works of Scripture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Those works include the Book of Mormon, the Old and New Testaments, the Doctrine and Covenants, and the Pearl of Great Price.

Upon registration at ReadtheScriptures.com, users can select one of the standard works (or part of one) and set the number of days or date by which they would like to complete reading of the book. Each morning a measured portion of the book will be sent to the user's email address. At the end of each reading selection are two buttons, one to confirm completion of the selection, and a second to request immediate delivery of the next day's selection for those who are behind or want to get ahead. Clicking on a button will open a confirmation page that contains both an inspirational quote from one of the general authorities of the LDS church and a chart showing how far the user has progressed in the reading of the selected book.

I have found it much easier to read the Scriptures when I am confronted with an email in the morning that has the entire day's reading in it. I like being able to click on the "complete" button and see that I'm on track. If I can keep up the pace, I'll finish the Book of Mormon again by the end of the year.

I hope you find ReadtheScriptures.com as useful as I have, and hope you'll stay tuned for links to more life-changing websites.

[Post-post addition -- I welcome any submissions from readers about other life changing websites.]


What do you say when.......

It has happened on numerous occasions.  I'm at the store with Trevor and Abigail doing grocery shopping or other shopping of some sort when I get stopped by somebody who must think I need their pity as they say to me "you sure do have your hands full!"  While I often feel like blurting out "Lady, you have no idea!"  I usually just nod and agree with them wondering if I should stop to tell them that this is a piece of cake.  What's REALLY crazy is when I do the shopping with the 3 kids that are usually at school AND the 2 that are with me.  

I have done this before and it is funny to see people stopping to add the 3 and 2 and then realize that I actually have 5 kids.  One woman asked me if I had help.  My reply was "I do have a husband!"  She looked at me like I was crazy and walked away muttering, "God bless you"  as she left.   

I know lots of people that have larger families than I have and I don't feel like a family of 5 children is unusually large but I guess for out here in Massachusetts it is rather uncommon.  

Just a few weeks ago all 7 of us were at Sam's Club doing some shopping.   As I turned to put our items on the belt I heard a woman say to her husband, "do you think they are all theirs?"    We do manage to turn a few heads when we all go places together!  

So, I'm just curious,  what is your response when you get comments about your family size?

PBJ du Jour: My first experiment in PBJ chemistry

I don't know what even made me think of trying it -- peanut butter and bananas?


I think that the moment when I first bit into a PBJB sandwich (the "J" is just in there for convenience--you can think of it as "Jeremiah's") was the point from which I can measure my experimentation with food. Sure, what kid hasn't played with his mashed potatoes or hid his peas under a napkin? No, I'm talking about "Kitchen Chemistry" -- what innovators in the culinary arts have been doing for centuries. Thanks to this sandwich, I'm fighting on the front lines of cuisine creation!

The PBJB sandwich is the one thing that kept me on the trail of finding a peanut butter that I could eat after finding out that I had a sensitivity to most peanut butter products.

Now that I've built it up, let me tell you about it. It's really just sliced bananas on bread with some peanut butter. Elvis would tell you to fry it, too, but I'll leave that to your discretion. The bananas need to be just past green and can be in rounds or long spears--I prefer the spears since they take fewer cuts to produce and are easily aligned on the peanut buttered bread. Spears also stay affixed better than round slices.

Can you see how this is "building" a sandwhich now? That's really how most of my sandwiches work. My sandwiches need symmetry and a foundation that can be built upon.

The draw of this sandwich for me: the sweetness of the bananas make up for the lack of tartness that you'll usually find in a jam or jelly sandwich, and the squishiness, which is often a turn off for me in any dish, just seems to fit well with the squishiness of the bread.


Natalie's birthday party

Natalie's 6th birthday is coming up so this past weekend we had her birthday party. This was her first party other than family parties. She was very excited and carefully selected the 8 friends that she wanted to invite. I set the limit to 8 people while secretly hoping that about half would be out of town for the Thanksgiving weekend. All but one came and we even had an uninvited little brother of one of the friends she did invite. I must have had my "free baby sitting" sign up on my door that morning!
Anyway, back to the party. We had a turkey theme. So we made turkey hands, played bite the bag, pin the feather on the turkey, opened presents, and ate turkey cookies and ice cream. It was a pretty quiet bunch but it seems like they all had a good time. I know Natalie had a great time and I guess that is what is important right?!

Instead of doing cake we made these turkey cookies and served them with ice cream cups. Michaela, Anthony, and Natalie even helped make them.  They were a big hit and fun for the kids to make.  
Natalie with her friend Sam who was also having his birthday party on the same day.  Sam came to Natalie's party in the morning and then Natalie went to Sam's party in the afternoon.  I think they were both partied out!

Thanksgiving photos

Even though it was only a few days ago, Thanksgiving seems so long ago. We had a good day although it was a bit on the quiet side ( as quiet as it can be with 5 kids running around!) with just us and 2 of our neighbors. The kids enjoyed watching the parade and helping out in the kitchen since everyone had an assignment or two. The kids each picked things they wanted to be in charge of for our Thanksgiving dinner and I jokingly said to them, "Look at that, I assigned all the food out and don't have to do anything!" Natalie immediately started freaking out because she didn't know how to make cranberry jell-o all by herself. We all had fun working together in the kitchen to get things ready and had a really good day.

Michaela hard at work grating orange peels for our home made cranberry sauce.

The cranberry sauce was a first for us.  Jeremiah found a recipe that sounded good so we gave it a shot.  It was very colorful and tasty!

Natalie's artwork brought some nice color to our dining room.  We even had a paper bag turkey on our table for our center piece that she made in her kindergarten class.  Just don't tell Martha Stewart!
Anthony was in charge of the mashed potatoes and stuffing.  He also did a great job setting the table!
Trevor  really enjoyed his dinner.  He has even learned to eat side saddle!

Believe it or not this is the seat the kids all want.  The little table made out of the piano bench with a polly bucket seat.  It is just the right size for Natalie so she was the lucky person this Thanksgiving.
Abigail really did enjoy Thanksgiving even if it doesn't look like it from this photo.  I think she realized that learning to walk is exhausting!  Luci (our neighbor) joined us for our meal.

So, how was your Thanksgiving?

Since you've already had your Thanksgiving dinner, here's some different food--food for thought...

Since my freshman year in high school (1990) the percentage of obese adults, as measured by their BMI, has grown from less than 15% in any of the states to at least 20% in all the states save four--15% to 20% of adults in Colorado, Connecticut, Hawaii, and Massachusetts are obese. In Mississippi and West Virginia roughly one out of three adults is obese, and one in four adults in 18 other states is obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Another estimate indicates that about two thirds of Americans are overweight and half of those are obese.

Why does it matter? Two of the leading causes of obesity are poor diet and low amounts of exercise. These two factors may also be attributed to approximately 400, 000 deaths in the United States every year.

So, Merry Christmas--this year my gift is this:

I love you too much to see you be one of those 400,000. Enjoy your holiday food, and then get up and get active! If you need me to get after you about it, let me know--I'd be more than happy to pester you about exercising and eating right.


Beautiful Thanksgiving

I was surrounded by my beautiful family on Thanksgiving day, and that would have been enough, but I had the pleasure of enjoying some artwork that my children created.

Michaela helped Tamara bake the pies for our feast. They made this cute turkey for the top of the pumpkin pie, which was delicious.

Natalie provided some paintings and drawings that she had made in school. One of my favorites was this painting and collage of some brilliant orange flowers.

How does she do it?

Once in a while, I experience something that makes me appreciate Tamara that much more. Just now, with Tamara out at a birthday party with Natalie, I had the pleasure of putting the youngest two down for a nap.

How did I feel with two children bawling behind their doors? You can probably guess. What I can't divine is how Tamara can do this every day without wigging out.

... and she doesn't even drink coffee. (Some women at the kids' school joked that there was no way she could have five kids and not drink coffee. [Edit] One of the other women jokingly added that she drank heavily at night. I hope no one believed her.)


Walking Wonder

Abigail surprised us all this Thanksgiving by walking.  It was just a few steps (5 was her most) but it is her determination that is so exciting to watch.  She kept on trying, would fall down and would get up and try again.  Of course I'm sure it helps that she had the whole family cheering her on and clapping for her!

Abigail is 2 weeks away from being 18 months old so it is about time!  While we weren't worried about her delays she certainly had the doctor scratching his head and sending us for unnecessary x-rays and tests.  All the results came back fine which we knew they would.  It is amazing how much personality plays a part in reaching developmental milestones.  Since Abigail didn't start crawling until 2 weeks after her 1st birthday I knew she would be around 18 months old before she started walking.  

Yea Abigail!  Watch out nursery, here she comes!



I have to say that I'm thankful for the golden moments of mirth that my children bring to me.

Today's moment was during a game of Junior Trivial Pursuit which we played with our dinner guests. Tamara advised Trevor to blow on the dice so he'd get the number that he wanted. Trevor rolled the dice, bent over the dice and blew, expecting to see some sort of miracle. Instead he turned a little red when the rest of us couldn't restrain a hearty laugh at his cute antics.

I'm also thankful that my children were in bed by 7 PM this evening. What a day!


Our first snow!

Today brought the excitement of our first snow of the season.  It didn't start snowing until the 3 olders kids were at school so I missed seeing their reaction but there was no mistaking Trevor's excitement as he watched the snowflakes falling from the sky! As we walked out to the car to make a quick trip to the store Trevor had to stop to catch snowflakes on his tongue. Abigail was trying to grab some flakes with her hands as I carried her out. She isn't so sure about this white stuff!

It didn't snow much but it was enough to make Trevor want to go out and play!

School lunch blues

None of the kids were excited by the Turkey lunch on the school menu this morning so their daddy took pity on them and quickly made them some wraps. One of their favorites! Since Jeremiah was already making 3 lunches he made one more so Trevor could have one too. As Trevor was eating his lunch I said,

"Trevor, how is your sandwich?"

His reply, "It's not a sandwich it's a burrito!"

When he didn't answer my question I asked him again this time making sure to call it a burrito and not a sandwich.

"Trevor, how is your burrito?"

His exclamation of "I'm so impressed!" had me chuckling to myself. Trevor is full of sayings and phrases that he can't wait to use but doesn't always use them in the right place. Just this morning he told me I had hurt his feelings when I sent him back to his room to get an undershirt. Too funny!


PBJ du Jour: Craisins with Spongebob Cheezits

I love peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Actually, it's just the peanut butter. The Amazing Mumford had it right when he said, "A la peanut butter sandwiches!" The possibilities for a delicious peanut butter and [your name here] sandwich are truly endless.

To give you a jump on the game, however, I am going to start a little feature on Eastern Blog Country that highlights the peanut butter sandwiches that our family has success with in the kitchen.

Today's PBJ recipe comes compliments of my mother-in-law, Cindy Wendel--not that she had anything to do with the recipe, but she did buy us the craisins that went into the sandwiches. In fact, Tamara said that you'd never catch her mom eating something like this.

  • peanut butter (we used all natural stuff)
  • bread (we used whole wheat)
  • craisins
  • Spongebob Squarepants shaped Cheezits brand cheese crackers

I think I enjoyed making these sandwiches almost as much as I did eating them. The trapezoidal shaped crackers made a fun design on the bread as I stuck them into the peanut butter. Oh, so I should make it clear that this sandwich will only work if you spread the peanut butter on both sides. You don't need to make it thick--just sticky. Spread the craisins, which are taking the place of the jelly, on the other slice of bread and gently press the peanut buttered sides of the bread together.

I wasn't sure if my kids would like this concoction--some of them are a little picky when it comes to the texture of their food. This combination, however, was such a hit that everyone asked for more.

The draw of this sandwich for me: crunchy and chewy, tart and salty. The varied composition makes the sandwich as much fun to bite into and chew as it is delicious to the taste.

Stay tuned for more PBJ recipes.

How soon is too soon?

I've heard so many people express their frustration over the blurring of the boundaries between the holidays this year. I want to hear it from you! What do you think--are Christmas celebrations beginning too early? How early is too early to celebrate Christmas?

(I voted for the last option, but don't let that sway your vote.)



I've got a wiseguy in my crew. Trevor's not even four, and he's crackin' jokes and thinks he's soooo funny. 

Just now, as the rest of us were rushing to get out the door to church, Anthony staggered into my room, trailing Trevor's stretched out Slinky behind him.

"Don't do that, guys--you'll break it! Use your heads!"

Trevor, who had the other end of the Slinky out in the hallway, replied with an, "Okay, Daddy!" He capered in with the Slinky held onto the top of his head looking something like an elephant with a big, dopey grin.

Of course, his funniest lines are the ones he doesn't mean to be humorous. He got the kids laughing this morning when he pointed to his head and expostulated, "Hey, guys, look at my new shortcut!"


Let's get ready to RUMBLE!

It's that time again--Youth Hoops! All my schoolchildren are participating again. I know it doesn't look like it, but Anthony and Natalie are actually on the purple team. They are still coachless, but I hope to offer my services in the upcoming weeks as I get past my teaching lab commitment for Tuesday evenings. They had a great game today, and looked so cute out there waving their arms around. Anthony even made a basket!

Michaela is too old to be in the same league with Anthony and Natalie this year, so she was placed on the orange team. If she is not as experienced as some of the other players in her league, she at least is tall enough to mitigate some of that disadvantage by being able to outreach her opponents most of the time. She also had a good game.

One of the most exciting aspects of our involvement in the games today was our involvement in the games today. I love seeing my children cheer each other on. I hope that this support and encouragement takes root and lasts their whole life through.

Give Blood - Give Life

I donated blood today. Anthony came with me and helped take some photos so I could share them with you. We had a good discussion about why I regularly donate blood. For me, it mainly boils down to being able to help someone out and possibly to save a life.

In order to encourage you to donate , I am including the following information from the website of the American Red Cross:

Every two seconds someone in the United States needs blood. That's a lot of blood.

But only 5% of the eligible US population donates blood in any given year. Healthy donors are the only source of blood.

Currently, there is no substitute.

Blood is needed for emergencies and for people who have cancer, blood disorders, sickle cell, anemia and other illnesses. Some people need regular blood transfusions to live.

Imagine if giving blood was part of everyone's life. Something you did on a regular basis, like eating at your favorite restaurant. What kind of difference would that make? For nearly 5 million people who receive blood transfusions every year, your donation can make the difference between life and death.

Giving blood is simple and convenient — see our top 10 reasons to give, browse categories on the left to learn about blood donation, or simply...

sign up to donate now!

Spaghetti Dinner

Oh, the joys of school fundraisers!

Last night we headed over to the kids school for the annual Spaghetti dinner fundraiser.  Let's just say that we don't go for the food!  We did have a good time and it is always fun to meet more of the childrens' classmates.  

After spending $10 on raffle tickets we were pleased to come home with $60 in gift cards from two local stores.  I like doing that kind of shopping!

Michaela, Anthony, Natalie, and Trevor were amazingly patient enough  to stand in line for about an hour to get their face painted.  It was worth the wait!  The girl doing the face painting was really good and the only sad part was that as soon as we got home it was time to wash faces and go to bed.  We did get a picture of each of the kids and that is what kept the tears away from some faces as their beloved unicorn, elmo, rose, and snake were washed away!  Can you guess who got what?



Yea! I've been waiting for this day for so long!

My site (really, my blog) is finally at the top of Google's list after a logical search string is entered.

I tried it just the other day. I went to Google and typed in "jeremiah jones." As always, I was rewarded with lots of links to some guy who did professional motocross or something. Poor guy--he got pretty messed up.

Anyway, when I typed in "jeremiah jones tamara," I hit pay dirt.

Hit number one: Eastern Blog Country! I'm famous... sorta.... All it took was Tamara to start blogging, and now we're on the map.

The Bubble Bursts

Non Sequitur is one of my favorite comics, and I was delighted to see Miller, whose humor I immensely enjoy, and whom I hope doesn't sue me for posting his strips, reference the Harry Potter series and the recent scandal following Jerky's revelation about her views on A. Dumbledore, which views she alleges to have always held about the lovable old wizard.

Michaela's reaction was similar to that of this poor youngster. I am left to wonder, "Why, Jerky? Why? Weren't the billions (not an exaggeration ) of dollars enough? You couldn't just be rich and conceited, but had to embroil the man, who could otherwise be a stalwart father-figure, in the mire of homosexual politics?"


It's always fun when Grandma comes and so sad when she leaves!

This morning was a sad and gloomy morning at our house.  The kids got up and got ready for school knowing that Grandma wouldn't be here when they got home.  We had a really good week with my Mom and as usual it went by way to fast!  

When people find out that we have family coming into town they always ask what fun places  we are going to visit.  I usually have a hard time not laughing because I don't know how you squeeze in sightseeing with 5 children.  It was all we could do to keep up with the school schedules, homework, housework, and meals!   While we didn't do anything really exciting we did have a  good week and a really productive week.  

Some of the things the kids enjoyed with Grandma were snuggle time in Grandma's bed, Natalie being surprised when Grandma came to her class to be the mystery reader, Trevor learning how to play dominos with Grandma, having Grandma come to basketball practice, Anthony learning that Grandma would sew the hole in his favorite teddy bear when mommy would have said to throw it away, making Christmas cards with Grandma, Michaela getting to cruise the mall with Mommy and Grandma, and going to lunch at Wendy's with Grandma.

We sure did cram a lot into our week!  The kids all came home to find little notes Grandma had left for them and we already have letters waiting to be mailed tomorrow.  

It's hard to be away from family.  I'm just thankful for modern technology.  I don't think I would survive way out here without phone calls and emails and letters from my family!  California and Utah are way to far away!


I love lazy Saturday mornings

I remember getting up early as kid and sneaking into the family room to watch cartoons. Well, this morning I kept the tradition of TV-watching alive by pulling up some videos on youtube.com. The kids especially enjoyed Pigs in Space and the Swedish Chef from the Muppet Show. They all sat at the computer or on the bed as we surfed through the various episodes. What a lovely way to start the day!

Here's one of their favorite episodes:

They laughed and laughed and laughed!


I've been tagged!

My friend, Angie Lee, who writes the SevenClownCircus blog, recently featured a post where she listed "random" facts about herself. One of her friends had "tagged" her after posting just such a list on her blog. Angie decided to make a big deal about her list, and saved it for her 150th post.

I don't have anything quite that exciting coming down the tubes. I'm only about half way to my 100th post, and don't imagine that it will be on my blog until next year. So I decided to go with what is currently my biggest blogging news: moving my blog completely to blogger.com! As of this post, I will no longer be posting to my old blog server. Additionally, I have migrated all my past posts (there really weren't that many) to blogger.com for your reading enjoyment. You can find links to past posts below and to the right of this post.


So here's my list.

In order to ensure the randomness of the facts included in my list – Angie afirmed that "the more random the facts – the better" – I actually came up with no less than 50 facts about myself, entered them in a spreadsheet, and came up with formulae to select 10 of them at random. (Don't worry! When I tag you, I won't expect so much effort, you slacker.)

1. I am afflicted with the photostenutatory response.
2. I really don't mind watching "chick flicks" with my wife.
3. My wife and I were engaged for about 5 weeks.
4. I'm still a little afraid of the dark.
5. I have been in college for about as many years as I was in school before college.
6. I am, most decidedly, not a morning person.
7. I've been to Alcatraz.
8. I use Macs exclusively at home.
9. I speak Russian well, Spanish a little, and phrases in Mandarin, French, Hebrew, and Greek.
10. I am named as much for Robert Redford as for an Old Testament prophet.

Now, what do I do with the other 40 facts?


Pitter-patter of little feet

The children were in bed when Tamara and her mom left to go shopping this evening. Everything was quiet -- for a little while.

As I sat downstairs on the couch, I heard the ladder on the boys' bed clatter, and then the floor creak as someone walked out into the hall.Then I saw Anthony's head poke down just low enough for me to see.


"Yes?" was my slightly gruff reply.

"Around the circle--is that how long you'll be my dad?"

"Yes... Anthony?"


(This is where I should have stopped, I think.)

"If my foot is square, what shape will it leave on your buttocks?

"Uhhh... Oh!"

Then came the quick patter of feet all the way back to bed.

Anyone home?

Recently, as I skimmed through the pages of one of my favorite popular periodicals, I couldn't help noticing an ad with especially large type.

What? I can just see my kids reading something like this and imagining a giant finger pressing down on our minivan, filled with everyone in their Sunday best, as their exasperated father tries to figure out why the car won't budge. Well... I can see myself imagining that at least.

Whatever could this advertisement mean? I read further:

"Maybe you're uncomfortable with the idea of God -- or at least someone else's idea of God. Yet maybe you yearn for a loving, spiritual community where you can be inspired and encouraged as you search for your own truth and meaning. This is a church, you ask?"

Wait a minute, are they describing a church without God? I thought you couldn't have a church without God. God without a church, certainly, but not the other way around. Why would someone go to church if they were uncomfortable about God? Wouldn't that be like going to happy hour when you're uncomfortable with people consuming alcohol? You don't go to someone's house expecting them not to be at home. God is the pillar of a church and the focus of worship in a church. A church without God ceases to be a church.

I'm starting to get uneasy. Did I miss something? Is it possible that my definition of "church" is so radically different from that of my peers? I think I should have a look at the inclusion of God in church as defined by the secular world. Let's see what my computer tells me....

My built in dictionary says a church is "A building used for public Christian worship."

That's not quite what I had in mind, so I read on...

"A particular Christian organization" is followed by "the body of all Christians."

Well, that settles it for me as far as the definition is concerned, but, being the humanities major that I am (or was, really), I feel a need to dig deeper. Where did this word "church" come from, anyway? Was there an intrinsic connection between the original intended meaning of "church" and God?

The word is traced to the Old English cirice, which is related to the German Kirche, which comes from the medieval Greek kurikon, which is based on the Greek kuriakon doma, or 'Lord's house.' Kurioso means 'master' or 'lord.'

This is interesting, and a bit daunting--I've found yet another word that I should respect a little more than I do. Every time I intone the word "church" I am referencing my Master--The Master, I should say.

So, coming back to the point that I was pondering, I have to honestly say that whoever placed the ad was not the only naïve one about the relationship between God and church, but I can be thankful that I didn't advertise my lack of knowledge on the subject.

Let me end with this aphorism from one of my favorite authors, C.S. Lewis:
“The perfect church service,would be one we were almost unaware of. Our attention would have been on God.”

Mahna mahna

So, every once in a while, I see something and wish that my kids were with me at that very moment. I had just such an experience today.

It actually made me think of a fat cat that sat on a rat while a ball fell off a wall and such.



...and so I found this video extremely helpful. After watching 60 seconds of cheap animation I completely understand the twisted plot line(s) of Half-Life 1 and Half-Life 2...

...which is really important because it's changed the lives of so many people?


Oh, and there's blood...


Grandma Alert!

Grandma Cindy has just arrived. Natalie has been counting down the days until her arrival (see the countdown up top, there?), and will be able to wake up, run downstairs and jump on her air mattress tomorrow morning.

Let's hope that Grandma's up for a week long visit.

As we prepared for Grandma's stay with us, we pulled the chairs out of the dining room to do some sweeping. Trevor was so excited, becuase that meant that he could play "choo-choo." He actually had Tamara and me sitting on chairs that he had arranged in a little column as we chugged along at breakneck speed.


So, why not wind?

Really, after all the fine research that has gone into it, and the awesome products that are available, why aren't we all a little more green and using wind power?

Poke the person sitting next to you, and let's all get on board. Solar panels, wind turbines, fluorescent light bulbs, turning off the shower while you're lathering up--it doesn't matter what you do, just as long as you make the effort!

More green posts on the horizon--stay tuned...

Laundry Day

Yes, once again, today is laundry day.  

My quest for today is to get my week worth of laundry for a family of seven clean and home.  I don't even care if I get it folded because that's not my job.  There's a reason why we have kids right? To put them to work? No really, the kids are great helpers and only grumble a little bit when they come home and see the huge piles they get to fold.  It's amazing how fast the laundry gets folded when we do it together!

Be Grateful for What You Have

The saying--You don't know how good you have it until it's gone--is something I've learned all to well these past few months.

For the last 6 years I've lugged my laundry down to the laundry room at the end of my building.  I think I've been a pretty good sport about it but have been known to occasionally complain and wish for my own home with my own washer and dryer.  Ok, so maybe it's been more than occasional complaining.  It's not so bad when the weather is nice but when I have to traipse through snow and ice it isn't so fun. 

About two months ago I got a rude awakening when I lugged my laundry down the cement stairs to find a sign posted on the door.  The laundry room would remain closed until further notice and I would have to use one of the other three remaining laundry facilities on the property.  My day was already not getting off to a good start!  The next closest laundry room was about three times as far.  I was not a happy camper and my mood quickly went sour.  

So, for two months now I've been lugging my laundry back and forth to the other laundry room.  I've stretched laundry days out to once a week.  I figure if it's going to be such a pain and hassle it's better to get it all done in one day.  Why ruin any more days than I have to right?  My grumblings have gotten less noticable as I've learned to accept this new situation.  

The lesson I've learned is that I need to be more grateful for what I have when I have it.  I'm still grateful that I have a way to do laundry but I will be more grateful when the laundry room in my building will be open once again!  I didn't realize how nice it was to only have to carry it to the end of my building instead of carrying it all to the other side of the property.   I can't say that I will stop wishing for my own home with my own washer and dryer but I will be more grateful for what I have now! 

This is a reverent place to be

Natalie drew this picture during our church meetings. It's our ward choir performing during Sacrament meeting.

We've found that if we give the children paper, writing implements, and some encouragement to take written or pictorial notes, they will be much more focused on what is said. Natalie, in fact, did not hesitate last night when, around the dinner table, the children were asked to remember one thing that one person had said during Fast and Testimony meeting earlier that day.

"Mini missions!"

That earned her an extra cherry on her sundae.

Michaela and Anthony have improved their attentiveness as well, but are still struggling a little bit with distractions of their own creation. On the Sunday prior to Halloween, Tamara had to temporarily confiscate Anthony's pad and pencil when he repeatedly refused to stop drawing bats instead of taking notes. Yesterday, Michaela, who has graduated to completely hand-written notes, digressed to drawing what looked like stick figures in a scene from "Singin' in the Rain."

Still, Tamara and I are pleased with the improvement, and continue to encourage the children to listen and take notes. I have found that my own note taking has also improved over the past few weeks.


Step by Step

It seems that our little Abigail is getting braver and more adventurous.  The other day I left her playing on the living room floor with her toys while I made a quick potty stop.  When I came out of the bathroom she was no longer there.  I called to her and soon heard her little happy voice coming from upstairs.  It was her first time ever crawling up the stairs and she seemed quite proud of herself.  I on the other hand realize that leaving the gate off the stairs is no longer an option.  She has discovered how much fun it is do go up and hopefully won't have to discover how it is not so much fun going down!  


It's official!

I'm now a member of the blogging club and I'm learning how to post photos.  

Stay tuned for more posts from the New England Mixed Nuts!

How was your Halloween?

We had a hippie, a pirate, a cat, Bob the Builder, and a lion.

Just to try to get the most out of the pumpkins, I decided to have some fun projecting a Halloweeny message.

I had to get tough with our pumpkins.

Trevor needed help securing his protective eye-wear.

Tamara was a pushover after school on Halloween and let the kids skip practicing the piano and do a Halloween art project instead.