23 April 2008

9 months!

We got back from Cove last night and there is so much to catch up on! First of all, Amelia turned 9 months on Sunday. We brought Jeb along for the picture but couldn't fit the recliner in the van. Amelia discovered the joys of table foods on this trip and won't let me eat anything in peace now.

15 April 2008

While Mommy is away....

.... Amelia watches Riverdance!


Amelia is very much attached to Mommy. She has a proximity alarm that goes off if Christie gets more than 3 feet away from her or out of direct line of sight.

Once a week Christie goes by herself to Monahans for Weight Watchers meetings (and a little sanity break). Obviously, Amelia isn't too thrilled with this. We thought I would just have to tough it out until Christie comes home or Amelia grows out of her separation anxiety. Then I found a (partial) answer by accident.

I was sorting through my anime music videos, and I had one playing set to some Riverdance music. Amelia focused on the computer and let me hold her without fussing while the video played. As soon as it ended, she started fussing, so I pulled up another one. Again, it had her attention. Other music didn't work; only Irish fiddle music works. I only have a few videos, and most AMVs use other kinds of music, so I had to get creative.

Youtube to the rescue! I've been playing around finding funny videos there (Star Wars and Harry Potter trailer with 133t subtitles) and figured I could look for Riverdance clips. Yup! All the Irish fiddle music Amelia could want! Here's the one she's watching in the picture. She even likes to dance with Daddy to the music.

Calling all Parkins grandchildren!


Grandpa's got a big birthday coming up...he'll be 80 on May 2nd. I know I wouldn't have known if it didn't come up talking to my mom this week, and I have his birthdate staring me in the face every time I open my family history files! So I thought I'd give a heads up and suggest that we all make a point of sending a card or something this year. That's just over 2 weeks away, so go ahead and get the card the next time you're out and I'll try to put up a reminder to put it in the mail a week before. It's also enough time that if you want to you can be all creative and make one on Shutterfly or something like that. I'm sure he'd like to read our memories of fun times with him when we were little...and for most of us I bet that includes scrapping gum off the chairs at the Lodge!

Personally, my plan is to buy a card the next time I'm at a store and use it to write memories in, then if I get on the ball and do a creative one that is just gravy and it can be from the girls, but at least I'll know that I have something if life gets in the way and I don't do anything more original.

09 April 2008

Hillary Under Fire by OSC

Hillary Under Fire
Ode on Hillary in Bosnia
by Orson Scott Card

"We landed under sniper fire!
We ran for cover, terrified!
The bullets flew around my head!
I thought for sure that I was dead!"

She told the tale in hopes it meant
We'd vote for her for president.
Instead we looked for evidence
Of Hillary's experience,
And found that not a bullet flew.
Her thrilling story wasn't true.

Because we know she never lies,
I ask, how did this tale arise?
Was it a dream, and when she woke
She thought that it was real?
Or was the story just a joke,
And no big deal?

Did drinking too much mocha make her
Fantasize this tale?
Or was it from a line of coke,
A furtive toke of the kind of smoke
That Bill did not inhale?


Oh hush, right-wing conspirators!
Your reasons suck! Now here is hers:
She just misspoke.
She meant to say
She landed on a sunny day
And a little girl read a poem aloud
And Hillary waved to the friendly crowd.

But campaign days are oh so long,
And being a woman, she isn't strong,
So the story simply came out wrong.

How could you think that Hillary lied,
When it was such a small mistake,
The kind that anyone could make?
No joke, no toke of smoke, no coke,
No dream from which she never woke --
She just misspoke.

You've heard that what goes up comes down
And where there's smoke there's fire.
Well, when you visit Hillary Town
The word "misspoke" means "liar."

(Copyright © 2008 by Orson Scott Card. Please duplicate
this poem as much as you like, as long as you don't charge
for it; but include this copyright notice with it.)

08 April 2008

Happy Birthday, Dad!



I tried to call. Maybe you'll see this after the board meeting.

07 April 2008

General Conference from the perspective of a "young mother"

At age 32 I don't really feel like a "young mother" but I'm going to assume Elder Ballard really meant "mothers of young children." That talk was just what I needed. Here are some highlights of our Conference weekend.

Elizabeth has an issue with singing. The opening hymn usually spells a total meltdown. She gets the most devastated, pained look on her face and sobs her little heart out. But she LOVES the Mormon Tabernacle Choir singing the exact same hymns. The other choirs that sang made her happy, too. No matter what she was playing with she would run over to the computer as soon as the music started. When they showed a shot of the organ she ran over and got her keyboard and joined in. How cute is that? I can't wait to see if all this means she has some musical talent. It does seem her ears are sensitive to off-pitch singing!
We did get dressed up and go in to the meetinghouse on Sunday. We got there early so I could work in the Family History Center, which I'm trying to get up and running again after it's been mostly dormant for the past few years. And so Elizabeth could enjoy Music and the Spoken Word! Here's Amelia playing in the foyer. She didn't like how dark the chapel was. I wish I'd gotten a picture of the big box of Cheerios James brought (I meant for him to put some in a baggie!).


After the Sunday morning session we stayed for a baptism and I'll admit I was glad we had plenty of Cheerios because I was getting really hungry by then. Elizabeth had a meltdown as soon as the singing started, though, so the girls and I left halfway through. They both fell asleep on the way home, giving me a little peace during the first half of the last session.

That allowed me to have dinner ready by the time Conference was over so I could load it and the girls back in the van to rejoin James at the meetinghouse and tackle the FHC once more. I'd downloaded some instructions during their nap and this time managed to get the internet back up and running. It helped that James had keys to the utility room because the modem and firewall are in there.

When we finally got home around 7:30 our next door neighbors had their new puppy out front. Elizabeth was so excited. Then she discovered something even more exciting...a sprinkler! She liked it a lot more than this picture shows and ended up going straight into the tub once we went inside.




Later that day


I guess she's working on molars again.

While Daddy was in the scout office


We found a park to play at. The swings were great for both girls and Elizabeth was very brave crossing the bridge by herself. I had learned my lesson from the week before and this park didn't have a pond (too tempting for Elizabeth). Sigh. It didn't matter. This time she waited until as far from the van as possible to decide that she just HAD to go in the street. Here's a pic of the fit she was throwing after I refused to let her run out in front of a car. Great fun dragging her back to the van with one arm while carrying Amelia in the other.

04 April 2008

I can has cheezburger?



No, I'm not hungry, just showing my new stress-buster at work! Just go here and enjoy more of what you see below. You can even make your own! It isn't just cats; they have other cute animals too. Christie loves the elephant ones I found for her. I especially like the polar bear cub.

03 April 2008

My Scout patrol is *not* ready for summer camp....

.... yet, but I plan to help get them ready. We have 5 boys more or less active in Scouts in our branch. Last weekend was our first campout in a long while, and the first for new convert. We're under a burn ban in our county, but the fire marshal is in our district presidency so he let us use an old dug out caliche pit on the ranch he manages so we could make a campfire.

And the campout of hard knocks began.

The Scoutmaster and I were the adults leaders for this trip (I'm the Troop Committee Chair). We decided from the beginning to let the boys learn from things and not step in. We decided this because we had a broad mix of boys. The 15 year old is the Patrol Leader because he is the Teacher's Quorum President (he is the quorum by himself), but even after 3 years of going on campouts (occasionally, when we can tear him away from his video games) he is still sorely lacking in Scout and leadership skills. We have a pair of almost 14 year olds that are excellent Scouts. One is working towards his Eagle, and the other is just shy of First Class and is trying to catch up with the other one post haste. We have a new convert to the church (13 years old) who has never been camping before, so we didn't know what to expect from him. We were pleasantly surprised when he made up his lack of experience with sheer enthusiasm. And then we have a 12 year old who seriously needs his dad to be his dad, not his buddy. His step-mom tries her best with him, but he ignores her unless called on the carpet. He is lazier than the 15 year old.

After a delay in meeting due to having to pick up the patrol leader who forgot to tell his mom about the campout for over a month, we finally got everyone together at 5:45 PM. It took about an hour to get them to settle down long enough (Lazy the Younger kept telling the new kid that Capture the Fag was a tradition and we'd have so much fun doing it) to get the gear organized (I brought extra for our two boys who don't have their own gear or the means to get their own). We also needed to do the inspection before we left. It's a rank requirement for a reason.

Spare clothes? They were all set, they said.
Mess kits? We got 'em.
Water? Plenty of it! Come on, lets go play capture the flag!

We finally get loaded up and make a quick stop for some tinfoil since I forgot to pack some for my dutch oven.

We had to wait a few minutes outside the ranch gate for someone to come open it for us. So we got the boys out and again went over the buddy system and the procedures for setting up camp. We reminded them that it was already 7:30 and it would be dark soon, so they needed to hurry to get the tents up, latrine dug, and campfire going. Dessert would take an hour to bake once we had coals, so there was no time to dilly dally.

So of course they spent their time climbing the walls of the caliche pit pretending to storm the beaches of Normandy. The more industrious boys starting digging steps into the side of the caliche walls. Tents did eventually get set up, and a latrine spot was found (they said they dug a hole.....). Dinner was a simple Mulligan stew, warmed up in the pot I snagged from the church kitchen because none of the boys thought to pack any cooking gear. Dinner was ready at 9:30 PM. Some couldn't find their mess kits, so we split up the mess kits we did have and had to improvise a lot with the tin foil and cutting up the empty water bottles from the case the Scoutmaster brought (we knew the boys hadn't planned on enough water). They survived dinner, and even enjoyed it despite their protests earlier that the wouldn't like it. (Nevermind that we took the entire patrol shopping the week before so that they could coordinate on the Mulligan stew). The dutch oven dessert was ready but we had another problem: the dishes were dirty and hadn't washed themselves! Lazy the Younger (LtY) ended up using his hands on the last of the ice cream in the tub rather than take a few seconds to clean his makeshift mess kit.

After some skits and time for scriptures and prayer, it was time for bed. Capture the Flag was forgotten by all but LtY because the other boys were all too tired. LtY realized he was tired as well, so instead of climb up to his tent (the boys decided to put their tents up on the second tier in the pit, about 5 feet above the bottom), he'd invite himself into the supply tent with the Quartermaster (our newest Scout). During the night he managed to sleep on half of the food and pop open the gallon jug of punch, soaking his clothes, sleeping bag, the potatoes, and some of the pancake mix. He wakes up cold and wet (we're out in the desert, and we banked the coals because we convinced the boys that fire watches were not fun) but doesn't do anything about it or say anything. He just spends the night that way. Of course, he doesn't have any spare clothes because he didn't think he needed any, and besides, his made his parent pack his bag for him.

The Scoutmaster and I are woke fairly early, but kept quiet and stayed in the tent, waiting for the boys to decide to wake up. We had reminded them that their breakfast was going to take a lot of prep work, so they'd all need to be up early to restart the fire and make breakfast. The bugler blew reveille at 8AM. The new Scout was trying to help with the fire but ended up putting out the coals instead. LtY announces his situation (and gets the nickname Kool Aid for his efforts: they were trying to give each other nicknames the entire campout). We scrounge around for spare clothes so he can change into something dry. He wants to stand out in the cold and dry off by the fire that is now dead. I gave him my emergency rain gear (coat and pants) from my car, the spare Scout shirt I had with me, and a bungee cord from the hiking pack I loaned out. We had to improvise for his underwear, especially since the only pants he would have would be the rubber rain pants. I ended up grabbing a large cravat and telling him to make a loincloth. The Scoutmaster tried to explain to him what that was, but after getting a blank stare ended up telling him it was like a diaper. So LtY climbs up the slope to go into someone else's tent to change, and spends over an hour in there instead of helping with breakfast. He refuses to come out because the pants were "too baggy". Eventually the almost 1st Class lends him his spare pants so he'll quit whining and come help. He hadn't volunteered the pants before because he had recently gotten into trouble with his dad (the Scoutmaster) after lending out a pair of good pants and getting them back ruined.

Meanwhile, breakfast is not getting done. They planned on sausage, bacon, pancakes, and handmade hash browns. We had one griddle, a small dutch oven, the cook pot, and the top of a bbq grill for cooking. After the fire was restarted, we had to remind the boys that arguing over whose turn it was to cook was not getting breakfast made. New Scout steps in and bumps Lazy the Elder out of the way so at least the pancakes will get made (and he did a good job at that!). LtY and LtE were standing nearby pretending to help.


Below you can see the Life Scout learning how to cook over a mesquite wood fire. Mesquite burns hot and creates a lot of smoke. Standing next to him on the right is LtY.



The Scoutmaster works in the oilfield and is used to having breakfast at 5AM before he heads out. He was starting to get a bit grouchy as we waited for breakfast, so I tossed the Antelope my emergency granola bar so he wouldn't turn into a Bear. Always count on the Beavers! (We attended Woodbadge training together. He was an Antelope, I was a Beaver, and the Bears got a reputation for being grouchy early in the morning). The granola bar held him over until breakfast was finally ready at 10:30 AM. We did intervene a bit and put the potato slices into tinfoil packets which we then threw into the fire so they could cook without having the griddle tied up all morning. Breakfast ended up being pretty good overall.


After breakfast, the boys wanted to go run off and play. We pointed out that we had a new Scout that needed to be taught a lot of things for his first few ranks, and that they had used up their playtime yesterday goofing around. So we started teaching different skills while trying not overly nag that the dishes needed to be washed. LtY did find his mess kit afterall, and left it laying around with half the bacon in it. Being a follower of the Outdoor Code, I Left No Trace and ate the bacon when he was off not paying attention to anything again. We had the experienced boys teach the rest the skills for their Totin' Chit, Fireman Chit, and the Outdoor Code. I taught the boys some basic sewing so they could sew on their own patches. LtE and LtY still don't have patches on their uniform even after over a year because they've been waiting on their moms to sew it for them.

President Riley, the Fire Marshall who is in the District Presidency, came out to check on us and asked if lunch was ready. The Scoutmaster and I quietly informed him that they had just barely had breakfast, and gave him a quick rundown of the hard lessons learned so far. He nodded his head in understanding, said "Good," and drove off.

We gave the boys 30 minutes to play Capture the Flag so they would get it out of their system. We reminded them that they still needed to cook and eat lunch so they could get credit for their Cooking Merit Badge requirements, and the break camp so we could be out of there by 2 PM. The Scoutmaster ran them ragged up topside while I started breaking down the leaders' tent. He had them back with 10 seconds to spare. Lunch was supposed to be hot dogs and home made fries, but the potatoes were all either used up at breakfast or soaked in Kool Aid, so they just had hot dogs and smooshed bread. If they weren't hungry yet, we told them to get busy on breaking camp until they were.

LtE announces that he doesn't know how to fold the tent he borrowed from the troop, despite having done so on several previous campouts. We tell him that the instructions are in the bag and get to it. After sitting there for a bit waiting to see if someone would come do it for him we were pleasantly surpised to see that he took down his tent by himself in about 20 minutes. Life and Almost 1st Class have their tents down pretty quick,and they're already loading the truck with the gear that is ready. New Scout is trying to clean and put away the cooking gear because no one else really put much effort into cleaning the dishes from breakfast, leaving LtY to take down the tent he sloshed with Kool Aid. We send New Scout to help him since they both shared the tent, but he was smart enough to not get suckered into doing all the work himself. We send down LtE to go help because a) he's the Patrol Leader and b) he just folded up the same kind of tent (the supply tent came from the troop equipment). LtE does a bit and then sits there and stares at it for 45 minutes waiting for LtY to help out. LtY hasn't even packed his own gear yet. We got him back into his own clothes, minus the socks he threw into the fire, but he still stood there. We passed around water bottles because the heat was rising, especially with the caliche pit not having much airflow and the heat from the mesquite fire still lingering. Life and Almost 1st Class had worked hard loading the truck, and were off in the shade cooling down. The Scoutmaster and I obliterated the fire pit in full compliance with Leave No Trace (including covering any black marks on the rocks or ground). The tent still wasn't put away. We joined the boys in the shade and drank some water ourselves. LtE finally got tired of tasting his own medicine and came over to the shade with us complaining about the "lazy ones" and that this was the reason why he hated camping (meaning having to help out with the work). LtY sits down in the middle of the open caliche pit, with the sun beating down on him, staring at the tent. We finally convince him to help New Scout put away the tent and load it in the truck. It took 2 hours to put away that tent. We left the caliche pit at 3:30 PM.

We got back to the church building and unloaded the gear, called parents, and started cleaning the dishes that were packed away partly cleaned. LtY announces his conspiracy theory that someone dumped the Kool Aid on him in the middle of the night. We send the tent home with him so he can clean it before it can mildew. He looks at his step-mom expectantly, especially after she had commented that she had been doing the laundry all day.

We finally get everyone home, hopefully having learned something from all of this. They have a lot of work to do to become a functional patrol and be ready for the all LDS summer camp in June.

While Amelia was tortured...

... Elizabeth enjoyed the playground outside the hospital. She had no idea why we were there, but she certainly got her energy out.

There were lots of other kids there also playing, which made it even more fun for Elizabeth.


She didn't quite understand the slider thingy, but she had fun anyway, especially with a little lift from Daddy along the way.


The shovel crane looked like a fun part of the playground, but even the big beefy boys couldn't muscle all that metal around without some help.


Another part of the playground is a diagram of the Solar System, with a speaker that says facts about the different parts whenever you go near one. At least I think that's how it works; it was stuck on Jupiter so I heard an excited 8 year boy's voice repeat "Jupiter, the biggest planet. It has a spot!" about a zillion times before another kid got it to switch over. Elizabeth is sitting on Mercury. The planets were covered in nice foam padding that was surprisingly cool and not sticky despite the heat.

If only we had known about this playground when Amelia was in the NICU, we could have brought Elizabeth to it since this hospital is only a few blocks away from the other one.

Guess James and I are lucky we're both the oldest

New research from Brigham Young University shows that first-born children get about 3,000 more hours of quality time with their parents between ages 4 and 13 than the next sibling gets when they pass through the same age range.

Click to read the rest of the article

Of course James' next sibling passed through that age range less than 11 months behind him, and my next sibling less than 17 months behind me. I wonder how (if) spacing influences things.

I think one of the most interesting parts is the ending.

The research also shows that the youngest child gets roughly the same amount of quality time whether the family is large or small. Price found that parents of large families devote more overall quality time to their children, so the youngest of four siblings ends up with as much quality time as the younger of two siblings.

01 April 2008

Fluoride

I've been wondering about the fluoride (or lack thereof) in our water for a while and something I read today led me check it out here. I found out our water is NOT fluoridated...because the water has natural levels above the optimal level.
As we in the Jeppson clan know, too much fluoride can be a bad thing. Levi was the one at the worst age for tooth development when we lived in Bruneau and has suffered the consequences. So I looked up Bruneau for comparison. Now, I think we were on well water, but I imagine the levels were similar because Bruneau has far higher levels than elsewhere in the county. Their levels are over twice the limit and ours are far less, so hopefully my kiddos teeth will be ok.
How's your water?