Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I'm a Dreamer

I've always been a dreamer. I rely on Gary to keep me grounded or I'd probably just float away into dream land. I see possibilities where others see defeat. It's only appropriate that I live in a city whose motto is "Possibility City." I'm a dreamer, and I have a big dream.
It's a big idea, worthy of a big name.

For many months now, I've been daydreaming of creating a homeless shelter in Louisville. Certainly, there are already homeless shelters, but I have an idea of a place where the homeless can come to shower, wash their clothes, or just stash things in a locker. I want to have a place where the homeless can get mail, where they can have a street address. Do you know how hard it is to do things, like get a job, without a street address? That just screams homeless, and homeless people are considered unreliable. Last night, I had a dream about a homeless person having difficulty opening a bank account because they were homeless. I woke up at 5 this morning thinking about that. How can a homeless person save money for a downpayment on a rent or utilities if they don't have access to banking services? So, I promptly added some sort of banking services to my wish list. I want to have psychologists and psychiatrists on staff to assist with mental health problems. I want to have a clinic so that the homeless can get healthcare. I want to run a dental clinic a few times a month. Healthy people are more likely to be able to return to a more normal life. I want to provide job training, and support groups. I want to have a temporary wet shelter, where homeless can sleep, even if they're high or drinking. I want to have longterm efficiency apartments for single homeless people who want to get off the streets and just need a place to start. I want longterm apartments for families who just need a little help getting back on their feet.  And, I want it all to be secular run, because not all the homeless out there are religious, and I want them to be able to find shelter and a new start without regard to their religious beliefs. And, also, because Louisville has this wonderful multi-faith coalition that would be a wonderful resource for a project of this nature.

Story time: There are a few reasons I am so passionate about homelessness. One of them is my older brother. As most of you know, he died when he was 24. There were times throughout his short life when he was homeless. Because he drowned, his funeral was closed casket, and we never saw the body. He was identified by the coroner by his tattoos and the metal plates in his hand. For the first six or seven years after he died, I would see someone who looked like him and think, "Maybe he's not dead. Maybe he's just lost." It was always a homeless man, and it was an extremely emotional response.

A couple years ago, a friend went through a homeless period with her four children. The oldest one was a teenage boy. I can't remember how old he was at the time, 13 or 14, I think. Maybe 15. At any rate, the shelters wouldn't allow him to be in the same shelter she and the younger children were in. He had to be in the men's shelter. This was very distressful for all of them. And it exposed a problem I hadn't thought about before. We need shelters that families can stay in, together.

So, let me bring you to the point of this post. Obviously, when I start building this shelter, and I will, I'll need your help. I'll need all the help I can get. In the meantime, I'm working on something else. Because I'm not ready to start this yet.

Recently, I decided to become a Team Beachbody Coach. I'm planning to use this as a way to motivate myself to get back in shape. I'm tired of not being able to enjoy the things my family loves most, namely hiking, camping, and hiking. And, quite frankly, I need the added incentive of being accountable to multiple people to do what I say I'm going to do.

Team Beachbody just released a new workout program called The Master's Hammer and Chisel. And, last night, I found out that Team Beachbody is going to donate $5 to The Upward Bound House for every Master's Hammer and Chisel set sold during the month of December. The Upward Bound House is an organization that focuses on homeless families in Los Angeles. Their goal is to get families in homes, and they have an outstanding success rate of 90%. I am so excited to be involved with an organization that is passionate about homelessness. And, I've decided to match their donation, but give my part to The Healing Place, a local shelter and addiction recovery center that gave me the idea of a wet shelter, and is doing great things.

If you're interested in a new workout program, and you'd like to have a go at The Master's Hammer and Chisel, shoot me a message or leave a comment *to that effect*. I'll give you more information. Otherwise, feel free to comment about other things, and I'll put you down on my list for help once I start organizing my dream homeless shelter.

*PS: Don't worry, this blog will continue to be the mess it's always been. It will not turn into a sales blog, or even a workout blog. I love you all.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

An Open Letter of Thanksgiving

My children with their father

Dear C and family,

I grew up with a very involved father. When I married, I gained another prime example of fatherhood in my father-in-law. And, I married a man who turned into an amazing father. Basically, I have been blessed in the father department. But, this letter is not about me, or really even fathers. It's a letter about forgiveness and the change it can bring.

I mention my wonderful experience with fathers because when I met you, your parents had just divorced. The time that I knew you, your father was not involved in your life. I never had to experience that, and your family's reaction to this is what I'm writing about today.

You spent many years without a father in your life. It was hard. I remember how hard it was on you. But when he asked to come back into your lives, you all let him. It couldn't have been easy. You must have been scared. You did it anyway. And because you forgave him and welcomed him back into your lives, you had him for 20 more years. I don't know why he was gone. It doesn't matter. I just know that he loved you immeasurably. 

Several years ago, I began to read small comments on Facebook about your father. Wonderful comments that showed without a doubt what an amazing man he was, the sort of woman I desperately want to be.  Over the past few weeks, I've read about your father slipping away from you. The pain and joy that you've felt as you watched a great man pass from our realm. I've mourned with you, although I only met him once. And I've been incredibly thankful that you got to spend all those years with your father. I am so very sorry for your loss of your Daddy.

I was lucky to have had a father who was engaged all the time I was growing up. But, I think I am also very lucky to call you friend and your mother an influence in my life. I want to say thank you for teaching me what it means to forgive. Thank you for showing me how forgiveness can change your life for the better. I hope that I will always forgive.

This Thanksgiving Day, I am so thankful that I got to be part of your family for such a short time, and that I get to see the way your family interacts with the world. This is the kind of family I want to be, and I am glad for the privilege of watching yours.

With much love,

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

It Was Worth It

We had a busy afternoon planned today, and I knew I needed to leave early to vote, but completely forgot until I was already an hour away from my polling place.

I had planned to stay at our destination for several hours, but had to leave after about an hour and a half to be able to vote.

Shortly after leaving our friend's house, we witnessed a hit and run. So, we turned around to provide witnesses for the victims (no one was injured, just vehicle damage.) 

As we drove away, I was concerned that I would miss voting, but as Xavier said, we did the right thing. I definitely would have felt guilty had I not turned around.

About 15 minutes later, we barely missed being side swiped at 60 miles an hour. It was close enough that the other car's mirror got pushed in. Xavier just about had a heart attack.

We got to the polling place at 5:43, 17 minutes before the polls closed. All the stress was worth it. Also, maybe remembering to vote early would help.

Monday, November 2, 2015

New Ironing Board Cover and Nanowrimo 2015

It's probably not the most exciting subject, but when Nanowrimo hits, I start doing other things besides writing. It helps my brain think. Yesterday, I decided I was going to work on a quilt I've been working on for quite some time. But, I needed to iron some fabric pieces, and my ironing board was in desperate need of some TLC. 
So, instead of working on my quilt, I made myself a new ironing board cover. 
I used this beautiful fabric Gary brought back from Africa for me. I still have about 5 yards, so I imagine it will show up in bits and pieces in many projects.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hello. I miss you.

I don't know who's in this picture with her, but love this early picture.

My Nonnie gave me the nickname Tissy-Teenie. From this the prevailing names of my childhood came, Krissi and Teenie. She taught me to bake bread, and made the most amazing biscuits. She was truly kind. She once canned green beans while a tornado went by. When asked what she was thinking, she said, "If the Lord wanted to take me, he'd take me. In the meantime, those beans weren't going to can themselves."

Nonnie with her brothers and sisters, and my mom photobombing

It was about this age when my Nonnie was sure that my  Uncle Phillip couldn't tell the difference between the front and back yards.

With her baby brother

She read to my older brother and me more than she probably wanted to. She introduced us to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Little Princess, and A Secret Garden. 

I always wanted to be just like her. 

When they went to pick up one of my aunts. I think this is Ruth Ann.

I'm sure I got my sense of style from her. I'm going to start calling my head scarves 'Nonnies.'

I called my Nonnie long distance for the first time when I was barely 18, just out of boot camp, from A school in San Diego, California. Prior to that, our phone conversations had consisted of,"Hi, Nonnie. Can I come over?"

Redneck camping

The first picture I found of us together

The pay phone was across the hall from my room, and while my mom got my drunken, homesick, middle of the night phone calls whose only purpose was to say goodnight, Nonnie got the occasional phone call to just chat. 

With her brother, my Uncle Bill


San Diego was followed by Norfolk, Virginia, Spain, Italy, Greece, Florida, and Maine. We would talk until my pre-paid calling card ran out. When unlimited long distance came into my life in Maine, we would talk for as long as we had time. 

Nonnie had a stroke right after Dominic was born. She didn't die for another 3 years, but talking on the phone was hard. I miss her. 

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

San Andreas Review

Some of the members of our family abandoned us for cooler climes, so Xavier and I are on our own this week. That means we get to do what we want. Eat where we want. Watch what we want. Last night that meant San Andreas.

First, it is important that you understand that I LOVE disaster movies. The only movies I like better are superhero movies. That's my disclaimer before I start gushing. Also, there may be a couple spoilers, but I'll try to keep them from actually spoiling anything for you. I mean, really, what is there to spoil? It's a disaster movie. We know what happens in those.

So, first, I'm really impressed with Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson's improved acting skills. Either I'm just becoming a fan of big, tough guys (not likely), or The Rock's going to have to find a new stage name. The man is starting to loosen up and act well, showing feelings and stuff. If he keeps going like this, he'll soon be able to expand out of the action genre, but no one wants that. He's too perfect for the action genre. (I don't know. It might be fun to see him as a goofy professor type.)

This movie contained all the great disaster tropes: explosions, buildings falling... I don't want to spoil it too much. The trope I enjoyed the most was when the one they flipped on its head. (Spoiler alert! Skip to the next paragraph if you don't want a little foreknowledge.) I loved that instead of having a beautiful woman that needed saving, they had a beautiful, intelligent woman who saved a pretty man with a gorgeous accent. That's not to say the man didn't deserve saving, or pull his weight in saving the woman, just that his was not the main saving role.

They killed off the bad guy at just the right time, in just the right way. A smart guy was a hero. Humor abounds. Disasters and rescues come one right after another. So... Where does that get us?

Armageddon Rating: 5 stars
I'm not sure how they could have put any other disasters in the movie.

Bechdel Rating: 4 stars
I have a bit of a problem with the Bechdel Test. I like the concept, but it can be hard to place in a movie like this. Does the test have to be completely about conversation? What if the movie has little conversation? In this movie, most of the conversation takes place *between* the sexes, versus between members of the same sex, so I've decided that counts. Plus, there's that whole strong woman doing strong woman things aspect. Sure, the star is a man, but we're getting somewhere.

Star Wars Rating: 3 warnings
This is a special rating we have for movies at our house. Is it worse than Star Wars in terms of violence? If not, the kids can see it, since they've been watching Star Wars since Xavier was born.
I give this 3 warnings because a lot of people die in this movie. It's a disaster movie, after all. Some of the deaths are up close and personal, although none of them are exceptionally graphic (blood and guts kind of thing).

Sensitivity Warning: 3 warnings
We don't see children die, and only a few prominent characters die. It does talk about the death of a child, prior to the movie timeline, and how it impacted the family, so has an emotional component for sensitive children. Also, due to the nature of disaster movies, this could cause nightmares, and anxieties involving high buildings and stairwells. Also, I'm not sure any child going to San Francisco should see this before the vacation.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Then and Now- School

This was supposed to be a post with first day of kindergarten and last day of high school pictures. Then, Gabriel made the point that he started learning the day he was born, and never planned to stop, that life is his school. So, I included a gratuitous first day of life in the NICU. He's such a homeschooler.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy Memorial Day

*This post was first posted on BlogHer in 2013.

Did you know that the flag is only flown at half-staff on Memorial Day until noon? After that, it is raised to full staff to represent the hope we have for the future. So what can that tell us about how we should observe Memorial Day?

Raising the Flag

First, of course, there are customs to be observed, like visiting cemeteries to place flags on graves, visiting memorials, attending ceremonies, and flying the flag at half-staff until noon. These things remind us of our duty to honor our fallen soldiers. These customs remind us to take care of the families of our fallen soldiers. They remind us that there are disabled veterans who need our help slogging through the mess that is the VA. They remind us to appreciate our freedom just a little bit more.

Then, there is the celebration. You see, to me, watching that flag being raised to full-staff is a signal to celebrate. It tells me that our lives should not be spent lamenting the lost. It tells me that we should spend our lives honoring and celebrating the lives of those no longer with us, and part of the way we do that is to find joy in our own lives. Even in the midst of our struggles, we can find joy.

 So, today, as you go about your life. Remember the fallen. Remember the great sacrifice they made. Remember why they made it. Take a moment to find out what you can do to help the families of fallen soldiers. Then, celebrate their sacrifice by living as full a life as you can. Do not just walk through your life. Dance, baby, dance.

If you would like to donate to or volunteer with some great organizations that help military families, I would like to recommend the following. If you have a suggestion of a great military charity, please leave it in the comments. These just happen to be the organizations I am most familiar with, or have a special place in my heart.

Our Military Kids provides grants to allow children of National Guard members and Reservists to participate in extra activities while their parents are deployed, and for the children of wounded warriors. They provide support and recognition to military children to reduce the emotional impact of deployments. My family has directly benefited from this organization. They helped send Gabriel to Montpelier for his first archaeological dig, Xavier to Space Camp, and got Dominic started in dance.

Special Operations Warrior Foundation- According to their website “The Special Operations Warrior Foundation ensures full scholarship grants as well as educational and family counseling to the surviving children of Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps special operations personnel who lose their lives in the line of duty and immediate financial assistance for severely wounded special operations personnel and their families.” This organization is one that is close to my heart, because it provides assistance that the larger, better known, and better funded organizations do not.

Fisher House- Another lesser known organization, at least among civilians. Fisher House provides housing, meals, and transportation for military families to be close to their soldiers during hospitalization for an illness, disease, or injury.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Robo Diary

Report from the robot week 1
slightly controversial so please don't rage in the comments

Here's what I don't understand about humans:

  • they believe that life can only exist as we know it
  • it took them thousands of years to understand that they are not the center of the universe
  • they seem to need to destroy everything natural and replace it with fake un-renewable resources
  • they enjoy watching vast quantities of violence
  • they spend hours looking at tiny computer screens that have a limited life span when there is plenty to do around them
  • if you scale there existence down to 24 hours, they arrived here 2 hours ago, their industrial revolution began 30 seconds ago, and in that time they have destroyed half of their forests
  • they constantly want to obliterate things they don't agree with
  • despite all these facts they still exist, and they write fantastic books

there're some things for you to think about

Loui the Alien Robot.

*Editor's note: Xavier will be blogging as Loui the Alien Robot for a while. Enjoy.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Mom Vacation

Wednesday morning, I got on a plane to Kansas to spend a week playing with fiber. These are a few pictures from my week so far. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

What Chronic Illness Means (To Me)

A year ago today. My brain felt like it was on fire from the medication they gave me. 
Part 1

Writing about my experience with chronic illness is difficult; I feel as though I'm baring my soul in a way I never have before, even after 8 years of blogging, and basically being open to writing about anything. I am sitting here with one thought running through my mind, "I don't know how to do this."

But that is how I've felt about this whole chronic illness business. I don't know how to live with chronic illness. I lost my drive to do anything, even knitting and reading. I certainly didn't feel like leaving the house. The majority of my contact with the outside world was through my computer. It is hard for me to make plans when I know that canceling them is not just a possibility, but a probability.

Hardest for me is that my relationship with my children has suffered. There have been entire months when I barely left my bed, and some of my children felt no desire to join me in my room to spend time with me. I feel like a burden to my family, them having to take care of me instead of me taking care of them.

For the last 8 months, my most prominent symptom has been extreme fatigue. I stopped exercising completely because exercising used two days worth of energy. One thirty minute walk would put me in bed for at least 48 hours afterward. Grocery shopping was impossible. Gary took over all the cooking and grocery shopping. Occasionally, I would go grocery shopping with Gary, following him around the grocery store like a lost puppy. When Gary went out of town, we ordered delivery, or he tried to buy enough groceries to last us the time he was gone. Gary was out of town most of this February, and there was some discussion about me using a motorized wheelchair cart so that I could go grocery shopping. I forgot this idea when I went to the grocery store. Xavier pushed the grocery cart and did much of the actual shopping. We have to go to three different grocery stores to find the products we need because of food allergies. That day, Xavier did all the shopping at the second store, while I sat at the front of the store. We skipped the third. Just driving to and from the grocery store, along with walking around the grocery store was fatiguing enough that I didn't know if I would be able to drive home. It was very scary.

When I first experienced symptoms, the most prominent one was speech problems. I would forget to finish a sentence, just stop talking in the middle of the sentence and have no idea what I was talking about. I began to slur my speech and stutter. It was incredibly difficult to get my thoughts from my mind to my mouth. It felt as though I had absolutely no control over my brain or body.

Shortly after I started experiencing speech problems, we had a social function to attend. Gary sat me next to a 'safe' friend. We had been friends for a few years, and she immediately started talking. Talking was what we both did best; well, it was what we both used to do best. I know longer did anything well except sleep. When I started trying to talk, she looked at me in horror. Within moments, my 'safe' friend had moved to another table, and I was left to sit alone.

That experience has exemplified what chronic illness means to me. I have lost friends, and family has become distant. It feels as though I have spent the last five years watching the world walk away.

To be continued.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Spring is Here

Playing in the rain in my new sandals
Three, maybe four, weeks ago, it was starting to get warmer as spring approached. As it got warmer, I had no sandals to put on. My feet started to cry out because they were starting to simmer and then to boil in my sneakers in the new heat. Every day when I was to go outside my feet would wail from the heat; they would sweat because they were confined in socks and shoes all day. But, one day I finally went to a shop and bought my feet a pair of sandals. My feet cried out with joy from the relief. A few weeks after I got my sandals, the store had a big sale which was very ironic because if I had waited a little longer I could have gotten them for cheaper. Ah well.

By Dominic

Friday, April 10, 2015

Help for the Haunted Review

Help For the Haunted by Tim Prasil is an incredible piece of work that shows both life during the Industrial Revolution, and the mysteries of the supernatural. The way in which the book is presented brings to mind the adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Watson, and the manner in which the supernatural is represented is completely unique. If you are a fan of mysteries or the supernatural, this book is an extremely good place to go that combines both in a humorous and innovative way.

Review by Gabriel

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Waiting for the Good Days

If you've followed my blog for a while, you know that I have a chronic illness. What you may not realize is that I've been battling it almost non-stop for the last 5 years. I haven't really shared much with the wider world. It's been a private struggle.

Last year, I got a job working at Starbucks. I enjoyed my job, but was exhausted all the time. I'm talking about crippling exhaustion that had me in bed asleep within an hour of getting off work. Exhaustion that kept me from caring for my children, or going grocery shopping. I also started getting migraines. I ended up in the hospital after one made us think I was having a stroke. I quit my job after 9 months because of my health. I was literally unable to work. We thought I would be better if I could just be at home.

But, I wasn't. In fact, the migraines continued to get worse until we found out I am allergic to dairy. We had done extensive allergy testing some time ago, and nothing had shown up. It wasn't until they did an ultra-sensitive blood test, that our insurance doesn't even pay for because it is considered experimental, that we found out what food was causing the migraines.

(A small gripe here about the insurance agency. They would pay $180 for a visit to a neurologist who told me, "We just don't know what causes migraines," did not do any testing, and prescribed a horribly expensive medication, which insurance paid for, but they would not pay for an experimental allergy test. That test has saved them hundreds of dollars, since I am no longer visiting the neurologist, or taking migraine medicine. End gripe.)

But, even after the migraines stopped, I was still experiencing that crippling exhaustion. I could not exercise because even a light work out would send me into days of sleep. Grocery shopping was out of the question. Sometimes, I was able to go with Gary and just walk around the store, but mostly I stayed home.

Then, a new doctor (one my insurance won't pay for, but is actually an MD, go figure) did genetic testing on me. He was the one who found the dairy allergy, and he found that I have an MHTFR mutation that causes me to have trouble processing methyl folate. (I think that's right; don't quote me on it, though.) He put me on high doses of methyl folate, omega 3s (they weren't even registering in my blood work), and potassium.

Things got better. Not great, but better. I still wasn't grocery shopping, and if I was planning to go out of an evening, we planned it carefully so that I wouldn't have to drive at night. Did I mention that my eyesight got exponentially worse? I went from never having to wear glasses to wearing reading glasses to having an astigmatism that has me in glasses all the time in about a year. I can't drive at night because the headlights of the cars blind me, and because I'm always too tired to be out past dark anyway.

I would have several good days, then a horrible day where I could not get out of bed. I think that because of the good days, the bad days were worse. We would think I was getting better, when in fact, I was just having a good day.

And there's always the guilt. The guilt that I'm not able to do things with my family, cook breakfast (if I cook breakfast, that's it for the day), drive my kids places, being able to talk to Gary when he gets home from work, is ever present.

It seems there is never an answer. Every time we figure out one thing, another thing steps in to take its place, but we have recently found something that makes us cautiously optimistic about the future. To be continued (because I've been watching a lot of Grimm, and the writers like cliff hangers).

Part 2

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Why Video Games are Good and Bad

Video Games are addicting, they waste time, and they don't affect children's behaviors. Video Games are to the modern children as reading books are to those people that were around before them; we enjoy them. They give stimulation, they give us something to do, and some of them actually teach lessons. I'm not saying you should play them all day long, the human body still needs physical exercise.

Some video games are violent, like Grand Theft Auto, Halo, Battlefield, and Call of Duty. Then there are some that expose you to other people through multiplayer: Minecraft, World Of Warcraft, Star Wars The Old Republic, and all those others I can't remember. They can expose you to war, mass killing, sexual junk, and absurd amounts of swearing.

However, some can teach you about life. Some are just fun! They have jokes, they have puzzles, and they have wonderful music. Some, like Typing of the Dead, teach you things, math, logic, science, grammar, typing, and history. I understand that some people say that they cause murders “Oh this person played Call Of Duty, and they killed someone at school. It must be the games fault.” There are studies that disprove this. Murders can be caused by just about anything these days. I understand that there are some games that have rape, murder, thievery, and downright indecency. Just avoid those; they'll go away with time.

There are good games out there, but the violent ones are more common because that's what people seem to want to play. If you avoid them, then other genres of games will come out. 

by Xavier

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Listen to Your Mama

I know my children very well. That's not to say I don't know some things about them, we do not inhabit the same mind, after all. Thankfully. But, I've spent a huge amount of their lives with them, and I *do* know their reading preferences.

Dominic only likes comedy. He prefers it mixed with action, like in the Ranger's Apprentice and Brotherband series by John Flanagan (we really like the audiobooks for these, by the way, available on audible), but comedy is where it's at for him. He's also a huge fan of Anne McCaffrey, adventure with some comedy thrown in.

Xavier likes dystopian societies. He likes them for the first couple books, then ends up throwing the last one across the room, a boy after my own heart. (Have you ever noticed that many dystopian series come in trilogies?) He and Gabriel both have a love/hate relationship with emotional books.

Gabriel likes adventure books, things by Tom Clancy and Clive Cussler are favorite authors, with Sherlock Holmes being high on his list of series as well.

But, even though I've been teaching my children for 8 years, they still don't trust me. Maybe it's because I occasionally make them read things I know they'll dislike but that I think are important. Most recently, this was Roll of Thunder, Hear my Cr. I knew Xavier would hate it; he's just so incredibly empathetic that it would hurt him. It did. After he read it, however, I had him write about why he did or didn't like it, and why it's an important book to read even when you don't like it. He was on board with this and gave excellent reasons for both parts of the essay.

Still, I knew when I assigned "To Kill a Mockingbird" that he'd love it. Gabriel loved it. It is still one of my favorite all time books, and it fits Xavier's reading personality perfectly. Plus, I think it's an important book to read.

He balked. He drew the reading of that book out for three weeks, reading a few pages here and there, until I told him I wanted him to finish it this week. He still had more than half the book left to read when I left for work yesterday at 1:00. This was the text I received 2 hours later.

Yep. I know my kids.

*Affiliate links contained in this post. If you choose to purchase a book by clicking on one of the links, I will receive a small percentage of the sale price.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Darwin Chicken

Last night, I made stir fry for dinner and went ahead and cut up the chicken for tonight's dinner. Although this is a recipe I've been eating since I was a kid, it's relatively new to our family, since I had forgotten about it. There's no need for a real recipe, but at the end of this post, I'll tell you how it's made. First, the story of how it got its name 

Our family loves playing with words. For some reason, a couple members of our family enjoy mispronouncing words. I don't know why, I just know they do. Jalapeño is one word that is almost never pronounced correctly, even though we all know the correct way to do so.  Instead, everyone says ja-lop-en-yo. Tonight, when I said I was making ja-lop-en-yo chicken for supper, Gabriel thought I said Galapagos chicken. This prompted Xavier to rename the meal Darwin Chicken. It is now the official name or this meal. 

Typically, we eat this with fry bread, and I've been trying out a few different recipes for gluten-free fry bread. I've liked both the ones I've tried. 

So, to make Darwin Chicken, there's a formula you follow. Use the amount of chicken breast you need for your family. For every 2 pounds of chicken, I use one jar of diced jalapeños. Cube the chicken and marinated the chicken in the jalapeño juice for at least three hours. Toss in flour and fry. Don't overcrowd the pan, since it actually takes longer to cook that way. 

I hope your family enjoys this recipe. Do you have any recipes you'd like to suggest for us?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Anne McCaffrey

I first read an Anne McCaffrey book when I was 12. I know this because the book set my parents subsequently bought for me were inscribed for my 13th birthday. I have loved Anne McCaffrey ever since.

I introduced my own children to Anne McCaffrey's worlds at much younger ages. I don't know how old Gabriel was the first time he read about Pern, but Dominic has been listening to the audiobooks for at least 2 years. He is 11.

This semester, we decided that a unit study of the Pern books was in order. Dominic and Xavier had been relistening to the Pern books in chronological order, but we decided to read them in the order McCaffrey wrote them in, as she suggested.

One of the things I do when creating a unit study is to pull vocabulary words from the books, in addition to quotes, historical and scientific references, and more. Although I have been reading Anne McCaffrey's works for 25 years, I never realized until now how rich the language is in her books. And, because I have been writing down quotes I enjoy, I have also acquired a greater appreciation for her turn of phrase. Here are just a few quotes I've found from the first two books in our study, Dragonflight and Dragonquest.

Talking about Lessa
She was used to waiting. Perversity, endurance, and guile were her other weapons, loaded with the inexhaustible patience of vengeful dedication.
Many of my favorite quotes come from Masterharper Robinton:
Gratitude is an ill fitting tunic that can chafe and smell if worn too long.
Silly people waste time assigning or assuming guilt
Life at the mountaintop Weyrs assumed a glamor all out of proportion to reality...

Fantastic descriptions run rampant in Anne McCaffrey's books:
The black maws of the individual wears, set in the face of the inner wall, were voiceless mouths, greeting hime all astonished.

And Mastersmith Fandarel, well known for his love of efficiency certainly has his times as well:

Ah, but a man can sleep anytime. A laugh restores the soul.

And, I think that last quote is my current favorite. "A laugh restores the soul."

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Regime Change

Earlier today, Dominic set himself up in the hallway with a chair and his schoolwork. He handed me some hall passes (that he signed so they could not be forged), and showed me his badge. Then, he promptly began asking his brothers for their hall pass every time they walked through the hallway.

This prompted Gabriel to run through the house gleefully shouting, "Can't catch me, copper," and "You'll never take me alive!" 

Since then, Dominic has threatened to slap Gabriel with his glove to challenge him to a duel. He has misused his power to move about the house freely, and generally had a blast being the self-designated hall monitor.

Maybe I should have Gary bring him home a safety vest.

(What do you think of his new hair cut? It's a HUGE change for us.)


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