Saturday, March 29, 2008

Learn from my mistakes

I've been filling out my family history fan chart recently and I have to admit that I've made a number of errors! I'm lucky I bought two charts. I thought I'd use one for myself and one for a gift, but it won't transpire quite like that.

So, if you are going to fill out a fan chart in the near or distant future, learn from my mistakes.
  1. When filling out names in pencil, DON'T use a #2 pencil! The tip is super thick and they don't erase very cleanly. They smudge really easily. Get a mechanical pencil with a small tip. I am using a .7mm tip and it works fine.
  2. Before going over your work in pen, double check your facts! This seems very elementary, but I was going off of memory for some of my first names and got some data wrong! There's no white out for this...What I did to try and correct it was cut a small piece of paper from the corner and cover my mistake. I figured it would have a mat anyway, so it wouldn't matter if a little piece of the corner was gone. That worked ok, but it would have been better to do it right in the first place!
  3. Once you get to the vertical name slots, don't write all the names facing the same direction. If you do, half of the names on the chart will appear upside down. Split it down the middle. Start the names on the right side of the chart at the bottom of the box. Start the names on the left at the top of the box. I had 5 generations done in pencil and pen before I realized this mistake last night! (Obviously I'm not a detail oriented gal unless I force myself.)
  4. Even if you're using a non-smudge pen, let the ink dry awhile before you erase your pencil marks underneath.
  5. I bought a couple pens, and the one I liked the best was Zig Memory System .5mm tip. I got it at Hobby Lobby, though they might carry it at Michaels or other craft stores.
  6. Buy 2 charts just in case. If you do it perfectly the first time, you can always use the 2nd as a gift for someone.
  7. If you can't do calligraphy well, do your best "scrapbook" handwriting. If you have really bad writing, or if you're anal about it being uniform and proportionate, there are companies that fill it out for you if you provide your family history and more $$.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Political Music

My dad sent me a link to this song by Johnny Cash saying it was appropriate for the election this year and that I might like his music. The song was pretty funny, and while he's a bit more country than I'm used to, I do like his voice. I need to watch Walk the Line sometime. I heard it was pretty good.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Piano resources to help you out of a rut

Recently I have felt very....routine...in my piano lessons. They come, play their songs, we give them new songs and they leave. I have two kids in particular who seem to be making little to no progress recently. One has even seemed to digress. Unfortunately they don't have anyone at home who knows enough about music to help them.

Additionally, I have been unhappy with my tendencies to be lenient about how much they practice at home, when the parents pay me, and making them start and end on time (though this really is only a problem one day a week). Almost all of my students are from my old ward, so I'm friends with all the parents. I know the families and tend to make more exceptions than I should as a professional.

I've been racking my brain and combing the internet for ideas to help make my lessons more beneficial, more organized, and more interesting. I really want to become a better teacher and expect more from my students.

There are a couple of sites I found extremely helpful for teaching ideas and resources.

Layton Music Games and Resources

Music Matters

Free Music Theory Workbooks

I've decided I'll not make many changes until next fall, but here are a few things I'll be changing:
  1. I will create a practice log booklet for every student. In it I will have:
    1. clear expectations for my lessons, payment, scheduling/rescheduling, vacations, etc
    2. my piano schedule with names and phone numbers of the parents. That way if they have a conflict on their scheduled day, they can call another parent and try to switch slots for the week. I'm hoping this will help reduce the number of "extra" hours I have to come up with for make-up lessons.
    3. a page with common musical terms and symbols
    4. Key signature charts
    5. Scales
    6. a few workbook sheets according to level
    7. Practice log/assignment pages. Students will have to keep track of how much they practice everyday. Parents will have to sign. Students need to see how much (or in most cases how little) they actually practice and be accountable for it.
    8. Staff paper for various things. One goal I have is to help every student compose an original song by the end of the year. It will be on staff paper with dynamics and everything. Ambitious, I know.
    9. Year end evaluations of progress
  2. Every student will have to memorize a scale and musical term every week, regardless of their skill level.
  3. I will have a reward/point system for things they do well. They will get points for practicing, bringing all their books, having their term/scale memorized, playing their songs well, etc. I'm not sure what the reward(s) will be. Any ideas? I have kids ranging in age from 8-14 yrs.
  4. The first 5 min. of the lesson will be dedicated to some sort of "music game or challenge". This will include things like sight reading, flash cards, rhythm games, listening games, not identification, intervals, etc. I will have a jar with popsicle sticks representing each challenge they have to pull from. There are just too many things to cover in every 1/2 hour lesson.
  5. I will have bi-yearly recitals with themes for the song choices. Our first recital will be in May, and I think I'll do "Classical Composers". The recital at the end of the year will most likely have to do with holiday music and their original compositions.
I guess that's it. Any of you other teachers have good ideas and/or resource pages?

The dawn of a new era?

Get this. I put Dean down last night at 6:30. Not one single cry after I set him down (eyes open) in his crib. We didn't hear a thing until 11 when he cried out for about 1 min. And 12 when he cried for about 30 seconds. I didn't go in either time.

Next thing I knew it was 6 AM and I hadn't heard a peep out of him since. I laid in bed continually convincing myself that I heard him talking to himself. I checked about 5 or 6 times between 6 AM and 7:30 AM to make sure he was really still asleep (and not dead!) or awake and not crying. I found him asleep with his hand in his mouth. So cute. Then, 13 hours of sleep later, he woke up at 7:30 and was ready for the day.

Hopefully it's indicative of what is to come. I could get used to that schedule easily!! Oh, and the last two days he's had fewer naps with at least one nap that lasted over 2 hours. Hooray!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Lest I get caught up: a svithe

So I don't get caught up in my awesome Easter dinner and leave out the most important part of this holiday, let me leave with you a quote that I found very touching in the March Ensign. It's from our beloved President Hinckley on page 7.
We know not all that lies ahead of us. We live in a world of uncertainty. For some, there will be great accomplishment. For others, disappointment. For some, much of rejoicing and gladness, good health, and gracious living. For others, perhaps sickness and a measure of sorrow. We do not know. But one thing we do know. Like the Polar Star in the heavens, regardless of what the future holds, there stands the Redeemer of the world, the Son of God, certain and sure as the anchor of our immortal lives. He is the rock of our salvation, our strength, our comfort, the very focus of our faith. In sunshine and in shadow we look to Him, and He is there to assure and smile upon us...I speak the name of Jesus Christ in reverence and wonder. He is our King, our Lord, our Master, the living Christ, who stands on the right hand of His father. He lives!"

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Happy Middle Eastern Easter

This is a picture of my boys last week. We actually only made it to one hour of Church today since Dean has been a little under the weather. Matt passed a cold to me and I passed it on to Dean. Poor little guy. I've felt bad for him. Aren't they so cute? I've been waiting and waiting for him to be big enough to fit into this onesie with the appliqué tie. Thanks Grandma!






Warning: You may be totally jealous of what you are about to see.



Or you may not. I guess it just depends on your palate.

When Matt told me he was hammed out, I decided to go a different route this year for Easter. I'd been going through some of my first blog posts earlier this week, and I came across my first Easter post. It's kind of long, but at the end I talk about helping prepare a Seder Passover dinner for the girls at New Haven. My brother commented that they generally have lamb (makes so much more sense than ham if you're going with Christian symbolism) and Middle Eastern accompanying dishes.

Matt grew up having lamb, but he hated/hates it. I never really had it growing up since my mom dislikes it, and I was a vegetarian pretty much my whole childhood. But the smell really isn't all that enticing. Despite our lamb-less-ness, I decided to go along with the whole Middle Eastern theme.

I went all out. I cooked pretty much from 2 until 7:30. It turned out picture perfect!

Here was our menu (I'll link the recipes):
  • Homemade pitas. Yes I said homemade. Matt said (and I quote) "Restaurant quality pitas. I've never had pitas this good in my life." They really were divine and EASY! I will never buy those dry, crumbly pitas again from the store!
  • Hummus. Always delectable so long as it is made fresh. While I'm not a huge fan of store bought hummus, I do love this recipe. (I pretty much follow the recipe, but I make minor changes. For instance, I rinse off the beans and don't use the bean liquid, add lemon juice to taste, add a little more oil, and use water if it's too grainy/thick. Also, I don't measure out my cumin.)
  • Baba ghannouj. Despite the fact that it is an Alton Brown recipe, I do not recommend this one. I reduced the measurements on the seasonings pretty drastically, and it still was too lemony and herbaceous. Mine turned out fine, but I know there have to be better recipes.
  • Haroset. Now, haroset is traditional on the Passover Seder plate. It represents the brick mortar from the Jewish Egyptian captivity days. I kind of just took inspiration from these recipes and did my own rendition. I used 1 granny smith apple, 1 gala apple, a handful of golden raisins, 5 figs, grape juice (in place of red wine), a hand full of chopped pecans, and a little sugar. I cooked it down and ran it through the blender until I got it to a nice spreadable consistency. We ate it on the Matzo crackers. Yummy and sweet.
  • Israeli Couscous with grilled vegetables. This was also just inspiration for my dish. I used Israeli Couscous (big pearls rather than the super small instant kind), cooked it in the recommended amount of liquid (I used chicken broth), 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp cumin, 1 clove garlic, a handful of fresh parsley. Cooked that on the stove top. Then on the grill Matt cooked 1 zucchini, 5 mini bell peppers (3 red, 1 yellow, 1 orange), and 1/4 of a red onion. He did a superb job. This dish was a hit!! We both really loved it. The grilled vegetables added such a nice touch.
  • Indonesian Chicken Satays. I used a marinade packet I picked up at Kroger's (Smith's). I saw it on my way out of the store last night and thought, "PERFECT!" And it was.
  • And for dessert, carrot cake.
It all turned out as good as I could have possibly hoped! I haven't been this excited or creative with my foods since I've had a little baby and a lot less time. I even used my china I brought home from China for my serving dishes! There was a lot of clean up, I'm oh-so-tired, and too full to want to go to bed yet, but it was so worth it!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sippy cups and solids

We started Dean on solids about 2 weeks ago. He's tried whole grain rice cereal, oatmeal, and avocado. I think he liked the oatmeal the best and avocado the least. The first two times he ate the avocado ok, but tonight when I tried it he totally started gagging the first bite and refused to eat the rest. I know it wasn't that different than the other times because I ate all that he couldn't every time. Guess it's not for him just yet.

I also decided to give him a sippy cup. He's never had a bottle, but he really took to the step 1 nuk sippy. He likes holding the handles, but he can't fully support it by himself just yet. I wanted to get him used to drinking water. No juice or anything for him yet.

I just bought sweet potatoes to cook up for him, so we'll try that next. Then maybe peas. I hope they don't upset his tummy since they're green.

Right now I am hoping to make the majority of his food, but we'll see how that goes. Baby food just seems danged expensive (like everything else baby). Plus, if it were me, I'd rather eat something fresh rather than canned.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Family Five

Celia:
  1. I'm not a dog person. I am very afraid of most dogs. I'm not an animal person for that matter. I would be very happy if we never had a family pet. I think it must run in my family somehow. I know my grandma isn't real fond of dogs, nor are a couple of my sisters, nor some of my cousins. Is it learned dislike? Or is there something in our genes?
  2. I know I've used this before, but I'm allergic to the cold. Seriously. It's not just a dislike, I get red, splotchy, itchy hives when I'm too cold.
  3. I love change. I like to rearrange furniture, cut my hair in different ways, try new foods, learn new things etc.
  4. I want to be a planner, but I'm usually more of a wing-it kind of person. I like to have a plan in place so I'm not caught with my pants down, but I rarely follow my plans. For this reason I have a REALLY hard time sticking with menus and such.
  5. I like spending a good chunk of time on projects. I would rather clean for 3 hours straight than do 10 min. here and there. That way I feel like I've accomplished something.
Matt
  1. He loves computer games pure and simple. Not console, computer. He's a PC purist as I call it. It was weird to get used to at first, but I now understand him and his need for it and I'm fine with it.
  2. If it's just the two of us, he almost always beats me at games. We kind of stopped playing 2 player games because of it. The only exceptions are word games like boggle and up words.
  3. He LOVES to scare me. Loves it. Well, not just me. I'm pretty sure he set up a video camera in his sister's room with a fake spider when they were younger. At least I think that's the story.
  4. He has the best smile and laugh ever. He thinks his dimples make his face look fat, but I think they are divine.
  5. He wears the pants in the family. He has the stronger, more opinionated personality, and I'm usually A. OK with what he wants. I don't always like to admit it, but he's almost always "right".
Dean
  1. He seems to be happiest when we go out. He likes to be outside or in the car driving around. He really enjoys short walks (less than a mile) in the Bjorn carrier.
  2. He always seems tired. He sleeps (for the most part) from 6:30pm to about 6:30am and takes about 4-5 one hour naps during the day. And he still seems tired a lot of his awake time. Not sure what to make of that. I think he might benefit from fewer but longer naps, but I can't figure out how to switch him to that schedule.
  3. As I've stated before, he hates tummy time. He doesn't much care for toys. He loves to look in the mirror.
  4. He has really sensitive hearing. He gets scared really easily by loud or long repetitive noises. Vacuum? Makes him cry. Blender? Makes him cry. Blow drier? Makes him cry. Matt making long repetitive noises? Makes him cry. The piano? Well, when my students play it's ok since I'm holding him. When I play it makes him cry. Loud toys with lights? Once again. Makes him cry.
  5. He loves bath time and diaper changes. Guess he likes to be clean. ;o)
The video is of Dean getting scared at Matt's noises.
video

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Happy 10,000 visitors and Tips for the newer blogger

This post was inspired by a post FoxyJ wrote a little bit ago. I thought it was genius.

I am by no means an excellent blogger. I am not a professional; I am not a computer programmer; there is A LOT I don't know. I'm writing this because I know many of you are starting right where I started 2 years ago. These are a few tips and tricks I found out (usually the hard way) along the way. Since I'm not a professional, if there is a better way of explaining these things (or if I'm wrong), just tell me. Or if you still don't understand, tell me and I'll try and clarify.

Oh, I just noticed that my blog counter just clocked my 10,000th visitor. Yay! My husband says that's totally small time, and it is, but I remember when it was in single digits and I was concerned about being too boring for people to read.

On with my tips I guess.

Embedded links. Notice how up above, the word FoxyJ is a different color? When you hover your mouse over it, it is underlined and you will get a hand. If you click on it, it will take you to another web address. That is called an embedded link. When I started blogging I didn't realize that blogger had a super easy method of creating links, so I had my husband teach me how to do it with html code. It was a couple months before I discovered the little link button. Talk about easy. Here's what you do:
  • First of all, you need to be in "compose" mode. There are a lot more html cheat buttons in this mode.
  • The hyperlink button is located to the right of the text color button.
  • In a different tab or window, go to the site you want linked.
  • Copy the web address.
  • In your blog composition drag your mouse over the word you want to be linked (FoxyJ in my original example). With it highlighted, click the link button. Now paste the URL of the site you want linked into the box that popped up.
  • Click OK and there you have an embedded link.
RSS feed. When I started blogging over 2 years ago most of my family and friends didn't blog. I only followed a few blogs so it wasn't difficult to check every blog every day. In the last few months it seems like an explosion of people figured out the blogging thing. It has been great fun to find old friends and keep up with everyone I care about. However, there are just too many people to check all the time manually. RSS feed to the rescue.
  • There are multiple readers to choose from. Just do a search for RSS feed readers. I use the Google Reader because it's easy.
  • Google Reader (and other readers) is a one stop place to check every blog you want to keep up with.
  • Sign up for it using your regular email address. You don't need a gmail account or anything.
  • Once you've signed up for it, there's a link that says "add subscription". Click on that and paste in the URL for the blog(s) you want to keep up with.
  • OR if you use Firefox to browse (which I highly recommend), when you are on a page you want to subscribe to, just go up to bookmarks and click "subscribe to this page". Internet Explorer doesn't have this option that I'm aware of.
  • When you check the reader it will tell you if there are any new or unread items for any blog your are subscribed to. Depending on their setting you can read all or part of the post.
  • CONCERNING PRIVATE BLOGS: even if you are "allowed" to view a private blog, it will not show up on your reader. Therefore you must continually check that blog "old school" fashion.
Blog as a journal. If you blog to keep a journal of sorts, remember to periodically print out your posts in a hard copy. That way your posterity will be able to read it even if blogger disappears with all your posts one day.
  • There are companies that actually create a hardbound book with your posts.
  • Or you can save it into a word document and print it out at your local print shop.
  • I have mine saved according to the year in a word doc. At the end of the year (or really, the beginning of the next year) I save it to my traveldrive and print it out and bind it at Office Depot. That way I have a "real" journal.
Pictures. Have you ever wondered why you are able to enlarge some of your pictures by clicking on them and others you can't? It has to do with the html code and how you move your pictures around. If you move your pictures in the compose mode, it will often break your code and not let you click to enlarge. If you move pictures in the Html mode, it preserves the code and lets you enlarge. Also, the smaller the picture file, the quicker it will load. If you have photoshop or hp image zone or other software like that, reduce the size of your picture. They are gigantic directly from your camera.

Visitors vs. Comments.
As a general rule, you will get more visitors than comments. If you really want to know if people are visiting your site, get a blog counter. There are different sites that will give you code to put in your blogger template. They can keep track of a lot of (useless and helpful) data.

Why Word Verification. If you've noticed, I don't use word verification on my comments. That is because I am lazy. I hate blogger's WV because half the time I can't tell if they want a U or a V or two VV or a W, etc. However, word verification helps keep out spam comments. You know how you get a ton of junk email? It's the same type of thing. Someone has an automatic spam comment generator that often sounds like "Hi. Your blog is pretty. I think you like mine. I happy to find you. Please visit me often." They're probably selling something. I'll start using it again when/if I start getting those spam comments.

Private or Public. I know there is a lot of debate about public and private blogs. I doubt I'll ever go private because I really like the fact that old friends can find me on a public blog. However, if old friends can find you, so can anyone else. So it's a toss up I guess. Some people are totally paranoid about having real names showing, pictures of kids, etc. There are legitimate weirdos out there that you probably don't want to have that info., but for now it's not all that concerning to me. I've always been horrible at using blognyms for me and my family, but I try to respect your decision for anonymity and call you by your blognym if you prefer.

Basic Html. Blogger makes blogging extremely easy, and you don't have to know anything about html to do a lot of cool things. However, in my opinion, it is helpful to have a very basic understanding of html code and tags. I use a template with a layout I like and then change the things I don't like about it. For instance, the size of the font, the size of the margins, the color of the background, etc. can all be changed in the code. I didn't change my template recently. I kept the same template and just switched out the picture I use as the banner. I created that banner in photoshop (that's how I can customize it to say what I want), uploaded it to photobucket, and then used the code they gave me there to embed the image in my blog template. There are a ton of different html tutorials, just do a search. Just be aware that your blog is viewed differently in different browsers. Not everyone sees what you see on your screen. For instance, the border around my banner is cream colored in firefox and black in internet explorer. And the top margin is different too. Don't know why, but it is.

Blog templates: Blogger has only a select few templates available through them, however you can find free blogger templates elsewhere. Once again, just do a web search. Here is a site that has quite a few fun templates. It will display the html code. All you have to do is copy the code from their site and paste it into your blog html section under template.

BIG CAUTION ABOUT CHANGING TEMPLATES:
  • Your sidebar links won't automatically be saved onto your new template.
  • Copy and paste your current code into a word document so if anything goes wrong, you have a back up.
  • ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS use the preview function. Don't ever save template changes without viewing it first. You never really know how it will look or function. There are a lot of templates that I think will look good, but don't once I get my info. onto it.
Browsers.I've noticed on my blog counter that the majority of my readers still use Internet Explorer to browse. I didn't really even know there was a choice in the matter. Matt switched me over to Mozilla Firefox and it was so much more convenient and better laid out! If you're interested in switching over, go here and it will walk you through the download. One of my favorite features is the spell check. It performs spell check automatically (like in word with the squiggly red line) on almost everything you do online. I LOVE it. I never have to run spell check on my blog posts anymore because of it.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The bling o' the Irish

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Thanks grandma for the necklace! We were festive today as we went shopping. Hopefully tonight all will go well and we'll have a green dinner and dessert. If it turns out nicely I'll post pictures.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Svithe church review

Today was a good church day.

Matt and I were called to attend the Marriage and Family Relations class for 8 weeks during the Sunday School time. We have a great teacher and great class, so it's been interesting. Today's topic was Anger. Well, that's what the teacher said the topic was. Now that I look at the student manual online, it was actually Responding to Challenges in Marriage. But we mainly talked about anger.

This is my interpretation of the lesson:

Anger is a choice; we are not victims of our emotions. No one makes us mad. No one forces us to experience feelings of bitter hatred. Were this not the case, we would never be able to gain charity nor could we have true agency. Contention and anger are of the Devil; charity is the pure love of Christ. The two cannot coexist within us. We must gain charity toward our spouses and respond with patience and love when challenges arise.

Amen.

I taught in Relief Society. The lesson today was out of the Joseph Smith Manual and was on Repentance. I felt it was a good lesson. Previously, when I taught in other wards, I would write out a complete lesson outline. I felt this unnecessary today when using the book. I just had tons of notes in my margins and tried to follow the class and spirit more closely.

Here are the quotes I liked best from the lesson and a few of my thoughts:

"If you wish to go where God is, you must be like God, or possess the principles which God possesses, for if we are not drawing towards God in principle, we are going from Him and drawing towards the devil...Search your hearts, and see if you are like God. I have searched mine, and feel to repent of all my sins."
  • It's kind of like we're walking the wrong way on those airport moving walkways. God on one end and Satan on the other. We have to continually move and work to make our way to God. If we stop moving our feet, we don't stay in place; we move toward the devil. The moment we stop trying to become like God, we slip up and make mistakes that draw us closer to the devil.
“Repentance is a thing that cannot be trifled with every day. Daily transgression and daily repentance is not that which is pleasing in the sight of God.”
  • This kind of caught me off guard at first. Don't we need to repent daily? Despite our best efforts we will sin. But that's not what it's referring to. We shouldn't keep repeating the same sins and repenting for the same sins day after day. If that is the case, we are not truly repenting. When we repent we forsake the sin. Give it up. Change. We don't say, "Sorry Lord, I know it was wrong to get mad and yell. Please forgive me." and then 10 min. later go yell at our spouse or children. That is what we can't trifle with. That is unpleasing to God.
"Let us this very day begin anew, and now say, with all our hearts, we will forsake our sins and be righteous.”
  • When we choose to repent and forsake our sins it's like pulling weeds from a garden. You must replace the weeds with good things or the weeds will come back, often more plentiful than before. Even if we plant good seeds we have to continually be on the look out for those pesky weeds that pop up. We can't just give up bad things. We need to seek out behaviors and thoughts that will help us become more like God. Today is a new day. No matter what we did yesterday, today is a new day. Don't be a victim of past behavior. Choose to move forward with God's help.
So here's my challenge to us all. Search your heart and begin anew. Get out a piece of paper and write: "things I need to start doing" in one column and "things I need to stop doing" in another. When you're finished, burn, shred, or rip up the paper of the things you need to stop doing. Physically and symbolically rid yourself of those things. Obviously this symbol means nothing if you don't actually repent, so by all means, repent. Keep the list of things you need to do in a place where you will see it often and try to become more like the Lord each day.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Spring Cleaning

Now that the snow has melted and it feels a little more like spring, we decided to do a bit of clean up around here.

Have any guess as to what would take up 21 huge trash bags?

Friday, March 14, 2008

That's more like it!

So, it's March.
And it was 80* today!
In Texas.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Good clean fun with feet

Matt hates naked baby pictures, so I've tried to keep it clean here! (Can you find which picture I had to do a little touch up work on to keep it G-rated?) He was just too cute the other day when we were giving him a bath. After we were done washing all he wanted to do was suck on his feet. He stayed in for 5 min. doing just that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Studies show...

There are a few controversial studies that have been in the news recently and I'm curious to hear how you all weigh in on them. First off, let me just say that I've always been skeptical of "studies show" type things because you have to really look at the study closely to see if what they did was enough to get a clear answer. In school I felt almost any data could be construed to "prove" any projected hypothesis.

Immunizations and autism
I hadn't heard of this one until a friend emailed me about it recently. From what I could gather from a quick internet search is that this one is more anecdotal than medically proven. That doesn't mean that it's not true. It also doesn't mean it is true. So, apparently there are certain vaccines that are thought to cause autism. (I think the measles-mumps-rubella is one, and there might be others.) In a quick internet search, I've found articles claiming studies prove the link between the two and other articles claiming studies have proven no link. What do you think? Will you vaccinate your kids? I personally have a hard time believing this connection, but I've been wrong before.

Little Einstein DVDs (and other TV) may contribute to ADHD and other developmental problems
Matt's pretty opposed to any sort of TV until the age of 2. That includes the Little Einstein DVDs, Disney shows, etc. The content is not necessarily the concern, but the idea that too much visual stimulation too early may produce problems later on. I think a little TV here and there isn't that big of a deal. I do think that lots of TV viewing could be a contributing factor to the increasing number of crazy school kids. My sister was shocked this year when she returned to teaching 2nd grade as to how many CRAZY kids there were. Bouncing off the walls, violent, etc. It would be an interesting subject for a doctoral thesis if I were to ever do one. So, TV or no TV in your opinion? Just curious.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Triple Whammy

I was reading the cult classic Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child the other night, searching for some answers on night wakings. While he's doing better at crying himself back to sleep in a timely manner, he still wakes up more than average. We've been doing sleep training for about 2 weeks now, but he still wakes up (and cries) on average 2 times before I go in to feed him the first time, and once before I feed him the second time. After reading the night waking section, I decided there are 3 possible reasons for this.

  1. The babies that were colicky in the first few months had more night wakings post-colic than other babies. He definitely fit the colicky infant, so I'm positive he fits this category.
  2. Babies with allergies or nose breathing problems woke more than other babies. From day one he has been a major sneezer. He often woke himself up sneezing. Most people told me it couldn't be allergies, but he hasn't grown out of it really. His nose often seems stuffed as well. So, while I'm not positive he fits this category, it's very possible.
  3. Babies with excema scratch themselves more during light sleep and even REM sleep. They can awake themselves because of the itchy/scratchiness. I'm not positive what he has is excema, but it runs in Matt's family. Before I started using Cortaid on his forehead, he would wake up with big scratches all over that side of his face. Just as with #2, I'm not positive, but it's possible.
So, I'm not sure how to proceed really. Hopefully he just grows out of these things?

Additionally, I have come to terms with the fact that I may just have to cut some things out of my diet. I hoped he'd just get used to my diet eventually, but I am to the point of giving in. Too much spit up. And unfortunately his tummy hates some of my most favorite foods. Here's his NO list:
  • Broccoli--probably our most eaten veggie
  • Beans (NOOOOO!!! How can I give this up?!)
  • Cabbage--love
  • Peppers--give or take
  • Onions--I use these in soooo many things
  • Most green veggies--I mean, really?!
  • Chocolate--I don't eat it much anyway
  • Extra spicy foods--I'm from AZ! (Jess, that was for you. ;o)
After eating a hefty serving of broccoli last night and enduring more spit up today, I think I will cut that out for awhile. But beans...I just don't know how I can live without them. Everything else I will try to cut back on, but I'm making no promises.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Side bar updates

I've been updating my side bar links. If you don't want your full name or I've spelled it wrong, please tell me and I'll fix it. Also, if I haven't linked you yet, tell me and I'll get you up there! It's hard to keep track sometimes!

Bribery gone south

Today I went and bought both the exersaucer and jumperoo from a lady off of Craigslist. (I totally shouldn't have bought them both, especially after my last post! I got both of them for $30 total. I've actually put the exersaucer up for sale because it's just too much big stuff for my little house! Plus it was definitely in used condition. Stupid, stupid me. Talk about buyer's remorse! The jumperoo, on the other hand, was in good condition and was a good buy at $20.)

She was pretty chatty and her little 4 year old was cooing over Dean. She was making small talk about kids, and said, "Good luck when they get to 4! I can't get her to eat anything! I tried giving her a bowl of cereal this morning and she wouldn't eat it. I tried giving her [something else] and still no. I just made her a grilled cheese sandwich in hopes of getting calories in her." Amidst this discussion I gave her a $20 and a $10. When she finished speaking, she waved the money in front of her 4 year old and said, "Look what I've got!" She whips the $10 out and says in a sugary voice, "I'll give you this if you go and eat your sandwich!" The little girl comes and grabs the money, but stays put in the front room with us.

All I could think of was, "Heck, give it back to me, and I'll go eat the sandwich!" I wanted to tell the lady "OF COURSE she isn't going to eat if she knows she'll get some sweet mula if she holds out long enough!" $10 for 1 sandwich! YIKES!

Down with DST!

I grew up in the crazy state of AZ where we did not practice this foolish thing called day light saving. We got on perfectly fine without it. Splendidly even. Though I have lived with it for 8 years now, I have never gotten used to it. It's ridiculous and out of date. I think it's mighty silly since daylight naturally lengthens anyway; with it, the sun doesn't go down until after 9 in the summers (practically 10 in UT)! What about all those children who need to sleep? I guess you just get good darkening shades and hope they don't notice it's still light outside.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Minimalist mama

I really haven't bought anything for Dean in the way of toys. I figured, why? He has a shoe box full of toys he got from the baby shower, but that's it. He's just now beginning to pick things up on his own and shake them around. It's hard knowing what to get. When I go looking for things I see all the toys and think "that seems so excessive. Does he really need that to become a happy and developed baby?" Usually the answer is no, and I move on.

I have decided, however, that an exersaucer and/or jumperoo could be handy. While he doesn't totally hate his bumbo, he's not in love with it. He's also starting to get fed up with lying on his back. And then there's his tummy. He HATES, HATES, HATES tummy time. So I'm hoping he enjoys standing up at a little station with toys he may now (or hopefully soon) appreciate. But sheesh are baby things so danged expensive!! Thank heaven for Craigslist! Doesn't always work, but when it does, it's great! (I'm hopefully buying an exersaucer tomorrow through Craigslist as well). Also, baby items take up SO MUCH ROOM! I hope to keep my toys as minimal as possible while still keeping him entertained and happy. None of this "I-have-a-whole-room-dedicated-for-my-only-child's-toys-that-he-could-never-possibly-play-with- within-the-year" business.

I would love to get him some great books. He has about 20-30 Dr. Suess and Bernstein Bear books (Craigslist find), but I think they're still a little too advanced and long. I read to him every day, but he gets antsy before we finish those books. He seems to love the one cloth book I inherited from a friend that has one word and one picture per page and is 7 pages long. I need more of those. And more short board books. What are your favorite educational tools/books for infants?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

March "page in a bag" entry

So, I was having a super difficult time with this month's "page in a bag." I originally wanted to do a two page layout, but it was just not coming together. The papers we were given were pretty busy and wild, and I just couldn't figure out how to make them work together. With Matt's help I wheedled it down to this one page result. The items we had to use: all of the paper pictured (minus the sayings), the ribbon, and the Rolodex card (it was originally paper bag brown but I covered it with the brown crazy paper). I'll go turn it in tomorrow and will find out in a couple of weeks how it measured up to the other entries.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Tag for Erin R.

10 yrs ago (1998):
I was finishing my Jr. year of High School. My most vivid memory that year was being called in to talk about class standing. There was a group of the top 10 students. At that meeting I found out I'd been bumped to 3rd because of a new kid who moved in (Russ B.). Oh was I ticked! (He did end up beating me, along with 3 other people. Ah well. Such is life.) The year before I had been in the top 2 in our class. I really, really wanted to speak at graduation. Didn't get my wish.

Other 1998 memories include:
  • All-State choir
  • Ninja Fish (remember that Vanessa?)
  • My last year of Cross Country
  • Teaching Piano
  • Switching from 2nd Alto to 1st Soprano in Honor Choir
  • Madrigals (and Jazz/Mad. trip, Ice Cream Social, etc.)--Oh man that was the year I MC'd with Cam P. for the Ice Cream Social and totally got chewed out by Mr. B. because we had some "politically inappropriate material". Oops. haha. Not the first nor last time I got reamed for inappropriate behavior in choir! =) Good times.
  • Getting ditched at Prom by my date and hanging out with my dad who was a chaperon.
5 Things on my list of things to do today:
  1. Exercise-check
  2. Teach piano to 3 kids- check...kind of. I taught one and the other 2 didn't show.
  3. Finish my "page in a bag"- not yet
  4. Make dinner-check
  5. Research convertible car seats--somewhat. I looked at the Brittax Marathon and it looks so big. I don't know if it will even fit in our car rear facing.
Things I would do if I suddenly was a Billionaire:
  • Pay off the debt we have (house and car)
  • Help immediate family pay off debts
  • Upgrade to a slightly bigger house, and probably move away from TX
  • Upgrade our furniture to matching and new
  • Have laser eye surgery
  • Have laser hair removal
  • Pay A LOT of tithing! HA!
  • Oh, and I'm sure we'd invest the vast majority
3 of my bad habits:
  1. Misplace things
  2. Waste way too much time on the computer
  3. Never wash my face at night (partially why I don't wear make up)
Places I have lived:
AZ
UT
VA
China
TX

Jobs I have had:
Piano teacher
McD's cashier
Waitress
Hostess
TA
Cook @ residential treatment center
Tax Clerk

Things most people don't know about me:
  • I stopped playing competitive team sports in high school because of how angry I would get at my opponents. I loved Cross Country because we gave opposing teams hugs and good lucks before the races. =)
  • I've worn the same earrings since the year 2000. Matt gave them to me right before he went into the MTC. I've changed them out less than 10 times and usually for only a day or two.
  • I dyed my hair red for 5 years but stopped because I was sick of upkeep. I still have a thing for red heads though, and I think it's the most beautiful hair color.
  • I've kissed 5 guys in my life, but Matt's the only one I ever kissed after I was 16. Doh.
  • I went through the Temple when I was 19, but I wasn't getting married or going on a mission. It was very right for me and the time in my life, but it was very unorthodox.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

The little snow angel

The first few are from last night when it was actually snowing. The rest are from this morning. After Dean woke up I dressed him in the bear suit so we could "play" in the snow. He was much happier before we actually went outside. I was going to be nice and just make him sit in the bumbo for the pictures, but Matt wanted him to really experience snow. So in he went. He looks so happy about it.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Wha???

So it's March.

And it's snowing.

In Texas.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

It's Scraptastic

We had a new scrapbook store open up here in McKinney. It's a great little shop and the owner has an amazing story. Though she's fairly young, she had a stroke a few years ago that resulted in amnesia. Part of her therapy was to scrapbook her life so she could regain memories of her family, friends, and childhood. Three years later she opened a scrapbook store here. She's a really neat woman.

She is promoting materials in her shop is by having a "page in a bag" contest once a month. She gives the first 10 people who want to participate a handful of materials (paper, embellishments, etc.) on the first Saturday of the month, and you have one week to create anything you want. You just have to use some of everything she gives you. She started this in January, but I didn't find out about it until February. I entered last month (despite my long hiatus from scrapbooking) and had fun using items I never use.

We had to use vellum, this paper, brads, and the little chipboard do-dads.
This is what I came up with. (The scanner cut some off.)

I wasn't sure how much I really liked it since it was VERY different than anything I normally do. But, it was fun to use new things and break away from the norm. I've never used chipboard, vellum or brads in my scrapping.

Anyway, I didn't win, but the owner said I had a fair amount of votes. I got the new bag yesterday and have been trying to figure out what the heck I'm going to do. There are two 12x12 double sided papers, one 12X12 page with stitching all over, a Rolodex card, and a ribbon. I don't have any 12X12 albums since I started scrapping before that was even an option. However, I almost feel compelled to enter a two page 12X12 layout since I have so much stuff to use. We'll see how it turns out I guess.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Easy as Pie

I had quite a fun break from the norm on Thursday night. My friend Emily hosted a little Pie and Movie Girls' Nite (click for more pictures). We each brought our best pie effort to share, and we watched one of those girly movies I wouldn't have seen otherwise. It was delicious.

After the movie we voted on our favorite pies. Emily provided a prize for the winner. I voted for the coconut cream pie because it was quite good, and I have to give props to someone who can pull off a cream pie. Mine always turn out runny or not so great no matter how hard I try. Those custards are hard to do right.

Anyway, I brought a new (for me) creation. It was a caramel pecan apple pie. I combined my friend Pam's delicious apple pie recipe with a caramel nut sauce I found online. I was a little worried taking a pie I'd never tried before, but it turned out better than I'd hoped. It was a decent take on an apple pie, but I couldn't really taste the caramel or nuts. Next time I make it I will use pecan halves instead of chopping them up. Though I couldn't taste the sauce on its own, it really did make all of the flavors meld nicely together.

The original vote was a 3 way tie. We had to vote again on those three, and somehow (to my surprise) I ended up the winner. I won this cute little diddy. Thanks Emily! It was great fun.

Since I forgot to bring my recipe, I figured I'd post it here.

Caramel Pecan Apple Pie

The best (and easiest) homemade Pie Crust recipe I've tried to date:

*This recipie makes enough crust for 3 pies. I freeze the leftover flattened into a disk, wrapped in wax paper and use it later.*

5 cups flour

2 cups shortening

1 TBSP white vinegar

1 cup water

1 egg, beaten

1 1/2 tsp. salt (kosher if possible)

Combine flour and shortening with a pastry blender or two knives until it resembles coarse crumbs. Mix together, vinegar, water, and egg then add to flour mixture. Mix until just blended. Roll out between two sheets of waxed paper then place in pie pan. Be sure to poke holes in bottom of crust.

*Note: twice I made this I didn't quite use all of my liquid. Once I used it all. I think it depends on how big the egg is that you use...*

Apple Filling:

4 large granny smith apples, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Mix together until apple slices are all coated then pour onto pie crust.

Caramel Topping:

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (I used salted)
2 tablespoons heavy cream (I used milk)
1/2 cup pecan halves ( I probably used about 1 cup, and in my opinion it could have used more)

In a small saucepan combine brown sugar, butter and cream. Bring to a boil and cook for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the pecan halves. Pour over apples and make sure the pecans are evenly dispersed on top of the pie.

Once it's all together
Loosely cover with foil and bake at 425 degrees for 45 minutes. Take the foil off and cut a whole in the middle and put it back over the pie. (You want the edges covered but the center not). Bake for another 15 min. or until a nice golden brown.

* If you want it nice and shiny you can mix an egg with a little milk and brush the top crust with a pastry brush before baking.