Friday, August 28, 2015

Happiness and A Book Giveaway!

My apologies for a very  late, very scattered, and very hurried post, but just like the mostly clean shirt Malachi is wearing today, this is the only choice.

I actually started this post the other day, 5 minutes before Fiona decided to start her "I will  now only ever nap for 45 minutes or as long as it takes for mom to decide she will attempt to write and only gets as far a making a latte. Or whichever comes first." It's one of my favorite phases, for sure and is surely just a short segue before  entering the never napping ever phase. My second favorite. But I gave each of the babies a plate of whipped cream and some utensils to play with to their hearts' content or until the whipped cream hits the chandelier. I think the latter will result in the former. And maybe I can hit post before then.

So yes, I said there would be  an opportunity to get an awesome book for free in the next week. And I think its been a sufficient amount of weeks since then.   here is the book. I have not finished reading it yet, for the same reasons the laundry is not done, this post is late, and my hair looks like it does.

(I would like to also point out Shane was gone hiking for a few days last week so things were pretty busy, and when he was home Malachi took his game up like 7 notches which included a bottle of syrup, some coffee, a rug, and some furniture. I was sure I was going to find a waffle and some bacon somewhere, as that would really round out the menu but I guess he couldn't find any. Everything, and everyone, survived and we are back to our version of normal for now.) And on to the book giveaway.

If you  were in the Seattle area some 20+ years ago, wow I feel old, you may have had the opportunity to hear Fr Spitzer, the author of the book,  in person. He taught at Seattle University and it seemed every few months my mom was making us get up at ungodly hours to go to the university to hear him speak on the four levels of happiness. I remember most of his talk, and being really tired, the coffee, and pistachio covered baklava. (So Level One, I know) I was 13, so.... um nothing. But I knew about the other levels. So that was something. I thought.

Fr Spitzer has recently put out a new book, an in-depth look at happiness.  What makes us happy and why? And why does or doesn't the happiness last? And what can we do about it? (For a brief overview of the Four Levels of Happiness go here. ) 
Three more volumes are planned for  future releases covering topics of transcendence, suffering, and evil. I say that because after reading the forward 4 times and going over it with my sister we finally figured the volumes 2, 3,4, all of which have titles and are referenced, are not available yet. I was super confused for a couple days.  But maybe that little bit of information will save someone the brain energy of sorting it out on their own.

 For a chance to win a copy of his book, leave a comment here and you'll be entered to win one.
I'll announce the winner here next Friday. I think I can remember that.

In addition to being a priest, philosopher, theologian, teacher, and astrophysicist he loves people and really wants to share with as many people as he can. He founded the and offers a host of resources available online. If you are interested in science, reason and how it all fits together it's the place to go. Shane has been going through   the Principles&Choices series with the bigger kids  and they finished the Science&God series and all they enjoyed them both quite a bit.

So this is not how I had planned to introduce the book and am not able to really do it justice just now, but if you or anyone you know struggles with happiness, or has difficulty finding purpose and meaning in life take a look at it. And if you'd like a chance to win a copy of the book, for yourself or a friend,  leave a comment.

Also, I have no clue why the font is all changing willy-nilly. Maybe it has something to do with the big whipped cream covered napkin Malachi just launched onto my keyboard. Shane's not home so I'm on my own in that department.    Time to pay the piper and clean up the kitchen. And the kids. And that will make me happy.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Always Late To The Party And a heads-up on a giveaway!

So I realized a couple weeks ago that a couple weeks before that was NFP ( Natural Family Planning) awareness week. I'm not entirely sure why it needs a whole week to share the, what seems to be secret formula  1+ 1 = 3. But it lasted all that week. I knew because I  read all kinds of articles written by other people. Interspersed with taking care of our 6 kids. Naturally. And then on the heels of that week came Breastfeeding Awareness Week? Month? Day? I think today is sometime in August. That is about as exact as my day tracking goes. But again I was busy nursing my one year old who is nursing and  teething and wants to nurse more when she is teething. So again I had nothing to say.

Plus the part where Shane was gone and my Surface thinks it is the funniest joke in the world to change pages/windows/houses on me without notifying me first so I can save the three misspelled letters I've managed to force onto the screen with my left hand as I'm trying to nurse the one year old and get enough caffeine in me to make it until Shane returned.

But finally, return he did. And after 4 grueling, tear filled hours of commuting on a Friday afternoon to pick him up, the kids all swore they would never go to the airport again. Even I thought it was pretty bad. The traffic I expected. I did not expect huge swaths of the airport parking lot to be roped off while the happy little electronic sign lied to you saying there were 67 empty stalls on this floor. To which the kids would say 'finally' and we would drive around the roped off area to get to the tiny area which could and already did hold 13 cars could and did hold so it was onto the next floor. Until I finally had it with Fiona's screaming and pulled over to nurse her behind a sea of parked cars whose owners were lucky enough to have not been duped by the earlier promises of green pastures and closer spots and had hightailed it to the top of the garage. And were probably picking up their luggage and passengers already. And stopping for a drink before facing the labyrinthine sojourn home. Which sounded great at that point. But we were not even at that point. Actually at that point I texted Shane and said I would just pick him up outside the baggage claim. Then one of the kids said they needed to pee. Given we'd already been in the car forever I thought it would be best to stretch our legs a bit. So we drove around and around the concrete  snake coils that take you to the next level of hell, while Fiona, not happy with the snack interruption,  added the requisite soundtrack of wailing and gnashing of her 8, soon to be 24 teeth. And we found a spot.

Then elation like only a sea-lost sailor spying land could feel. Or maybe a woman in labor seeing the anesthesiologist about to deliver a syringe of relief might feel. I don't know. I'm sure there is a Natural Childbirth Awareness festival coming up soon. Maybe I'll catch that one. Or not. For sure not.

Shane was waiting for his fish, always waiting for the fish, when the kids spotted him in the terminal. I said hi to the other crew members. Who were hitching rides from another fishermen as one  wife was home with the babies, because- nap time. Wise woman.

Eventually, we finished limping home while Shane told us fish stories and the babies napped so they could stay up all night to celebrate their father's return and when we did, we got to snack on smoked salmon while making baked salmon with soy sauce and brown sugar and frying potatoes to go with it all. And some nice wine. So it was declared a victory and totally worth it by everyone. Though I held back on my pronouncement until after I got my nerves set back to almost normal when I had a hair appointment and  I got to  read the book I've been trying to read for a few weeks. Which is really good and I'll share it here next week and offer a chance to win a free copy because I'd like to give everyone I know or meet a copy or at least make them aware of it.  But I can't. Because, you know. Fish is expensive.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Let Them Eat Fish

It has been abysmally hot here. For here. More like winter, if you live in the Sahara. But feels like the Sahara if you live in the Pacific Northwest. So warm we have discussed air conditioning. Twice. On hot, sticky, crabby days it seems the obvious thing to do. Then we have a cool morning and I put off calling an installer to come give a bid, which we already have a good guess as to what it would take as all our neighbors have been getting units installed and have been helpful in sharing information. But not inviting us over for dinner. Fine. But I also have bids for braces needing to be installed for two kids soon as well, and maybe in December there would be less of a rush on getting it installed (its a month-long wait right now) so until we hit the high 80s again I feel complacent with my myriad of fans running 24x7.

After a serious talk, Shane decided to head north, to Alaska. For real. Not to find cooler climes, but hopefully to find fish. He made lamb last week and no one was a fan. I caught the kids making paranoid faces at each other across the table like 'what did I just put in my mouth and how do I get it out without it touching my tongue again?' I was equally unimpressed the wooly flavor teasing my taste buds into rebellion and quietly signaled them to use their napkins to remove the offending source. So we later discussed and thought fish would be a more palatable staple to stock up on. All the kids love fish. We worked out the numbers and flying to Alaska with lodging and fishing trips, then flying home again seemed the most economical option. Depending on his share it might work out to about $300 a lb. Which is a really good deal for salmon these days. The brochure says. Of course there is the emotional cost of having him not home, but winter is coming and he needed to go. So off he went. With a few friends who are also supporting families. Who hopefully like fish.

I, for my part, made a hair appointment for myself, after he returns. And if today goes like yesterday, will need to add a massage for the following week-end. And every week-end for the next 6 weeks. Which I could get behind. And with the money we saved by catching vs buying fish I might extend them for the rest of the year! Thanks Shane!

Fortunately the kids are doing their best to keep me from getting bored. Fiona is continuing her mountaineer, or mountain goat, or Sherpa training. She learns quickly and Malachi has a ton to teach. I think if we get them both schooled in backwoods medicine, that doesn't sound quite right, whatever that's called so they can stitch each other with pine needles and spider webs and set broken limbs we'll be ok. I already had to block off the climbing wall on the play set, but apparently she can now navigate the ladder too. Climbing all the way up the slide was an obvious route to reach the second level which is full of large openings for the other ways-up, which can very quickly become ways-down. So we might have some handy-man work to keep us busy as well.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Now, On A More Serious Note

So I wrote  this after reading the umpteenth article on the latest MS research. They haven't changed much in the past I don't even know how many years. And I thought I'd give it a go. If if you want to try one yourself, it's really easy. Lead in with a catchy promise. (Don't worry, you won't have to deliver anything really substantial or actionable. Or you can even drop the bomb that the research has already proved fruitless if you like, in the last paragraph. Just string them along as for as many paragraphs as you can). Then you have a brief  bit describing the antagonist of your choosing and say how many people are dealing with the chosen malady and the current state of what can/cannot be done for those people. Next, what/how a new discovery was made and the possible implications it might have on future treatments, patients, stock prices etc. Occasionally the entire article can be written/sponsored by a drug company and is really just a long glossy ad. With models.

I do not hold anything against the drug companies, the researchers, or the doctors dealing prescribing the drugs. We're all doing the best we can and have families to feed. I know this is easy for me to say when I am not using my researchers or risking my reputation or entire business on exploring new frontiers of medicine. I'm just asked to risk various parts of my already limping along body and sometimes my life, if I choose to take the offered pills, with no guarantee they will help. Yes, decades of having never-to-be-realized promises dangled in your face can make one a bit cynical so I put it to good use and at least got some entertainment. If anyone wants to take a stab at it and get their satire on I'd be delighted to read your version. Email me or leave a link in the comments.

Sorry to read like a drug ad, but the serious note will have to wait until next time as the baby is up.
At least she delivers as promised.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Ha Ha No!

 "Ha, Ha, NO!"
Which in Malachi speak, means whatever you are laughing at is definitely not funny.
Which I thought was a pretty clever use of language, coming from a kid who will readily wear a garbage can on his head, just for ha, ha. Or maybe it was to cover up the fact he was not wearing pants, which in my opinion makes this picture double ha, ha.
It has been unusually hot, not warm, here so diapers are pretty much optional for the babies these days.
The options being 'do I leave my diaper here? Or there?'
It makes for  fun treasure hunts, but it also discourages diaper rashes so we're not too concerned about it.
I had already declared it a big-kid-pool-free summer this year (with two toddlers I was not going to add any stress to our days)  and the heat did not cause me to relent.  Our last pool finally bit the dust so setting it up was not even an option. I did feel sorry for the kids. They were hot and crabby all day and every day. So being the thoughtful parent I am, I didn't do anything about it. Until they started playing what sounded to me it like the Spanish Inquisition all day long. So when the cousins came to visit I ventured out in the heat to get them a slip-n-slide.  Three different stores. No luck. Ordering one wouldn't come until after the weekend. Not wanting to face the kids empty-handed, I stopped by the hardware store and bought a $10, clear tarp. I considered black, to keep the water warmer, but thought it might be too much of a blot on the weed-infested landscape and Shane might actually notice it. Its on the other side of the yard, and so far so good. First we had to figure out a way to secure the corners with bags of extra mulch, of course. The hardware store only had metal steaks, and being the kind of parent who prefers to avoid emergency room visits at all costs, I passed, and we just used what we had.

It worked out pretty well. Until they started complaining about bruises from the hard, dry ground under the tarp. Its been unseasonably warm and dry for awhile. So it was REALLY hard.

 "Really, Mom? You think  a piece of plastic and some cold water will buy you a peaceful cup of coffee?"

So it was off the  dollar section for some air mattresses to cushion  their rides,

And some baby shampoo to add some speed. The shampoo had the added bonus of making everyone smell great and allowed us to skip bathtime. I think all together it added up to several hours of no fights,  plus quiet time in the house for the non-sliders. I am also hoping to get the extra bonus of the tarp acting as a magnifier and frying the bacon out of the weed bed underneath. I'll move it every couple days to spread the death but avoid the unwanted smell of decay that can accompany it. Making the entire yard unusable. Because, as Shane says, just like a trip to the grocery store with Muffin,  that would be 'none fun'.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

More New Research

Researchers Discover novel new ingredient in your daily cup of coffee might just maybe offer hope to millions of MS sufferers. 

A night janitor at  UST, University for Sciency Things, may have stumbled (quite literally) upon a  stunning discovery which may lead to new  treatments for patients with MS. Or not. But which will definitely lead to a fresh coat of paint in the biology lab. Sources report the janitor, Ken,  had the happy accident of tripping over a cord while vacuuming  and holding his thermos of black coffee, sending his drink splashing across the wall and across the papers of the head researcher's desk. The next morning Head Researcher, a tea lover himself, read the reports and concluded coffee may offer a benefit to people with MS and should definitely be looked into.

MS is a degenerative disease of the nervous system. No one knows exactly why or how the fatty myelin in brains and spinal cords of MS patients degenerates leading to nerve damage and various funky feelings and symptoms ranging from inappropriate laughter to inappropriate blog topics . And lots of other inappropriate things. MS affects many million people world-wide. You probably know someone who has it. Great Aunt Matilda didn't wear that cooling vest and sweet leg brace just to make a fashion statement.  Uncle Vern? Did he seem a little unsteady and slow at the last family reunion? Oh wait. Never mind. He  really was sauced. Moving on. The point is there are lots of events, fundraisers, and maybe even some orange(for MS)  t-shirts out there. So this article (and the 50-almost-exactly-the-same ones with no useful information to follow)  are important to all of us.

Researchers say it is too early to say for sure why/if caffeine could benefit  MS patients, and are quick to discourage anyone from self medicating.

" We really do not want to see people just going off all willy-nilly and  start chugging this stuff on their own.  Random, placebo-effect controlled trials with blind-folded doctors will begin  in about 10 years and in another 10 we should have some foggy idea of what may, or may not, be the back  end  of a rat.  It's really hard to tell when they have those soft pointy noses and those long pointy tails and you can't see a bleepin' thing. We realize a lot of patients, rats, and doctors and  will not be around by then and we are sincerely sorry. We are doing everything we can to minimize loss of life. Our new protocols, including making sure ALL the windows are closed, should result in keeping more doctors for the next phase. There is a  'dead rat quota' each trial must reach before we can start offing actual patients, and we are all about killing things by the book. Until then we encourage everyone to stay on their neurologist-recommended drug of choice," says Pharma4All spokesman Si De'fect.

(Disclaimer: Pharma4All is sponsoring the trial and will attempt to patent caffeine and stop all future research should it be proven to be helpful. If they are unable to get the patent granted they will drop all research into the  new area and focus on their current  therapy product lines, the inject able  Lumps4You, their new oral medication Nausea4Ever, and the still in the pipeline Itsnota2mer, which is up for FDA approval next fall.)

The research and trial findings  will first need to be peer reviewed. Si explains this is a very important step in new drug research.

"We feel it is  essential we all tell the same story. In order for this to happen, we will need to spend a  large amount of time reviewing the script over larger amounts of red wine and steak at a remote and exotic location. Most likely Tahiti."

"Last year a separate company, LimpBGone, made the realization that having legs did NOT, in fact,  increase, or decrease, your chances of developing MS. But it was not until they were all cozy together in the Swiss Alps, putting on skis, during peer review time, that they were able to notice they ALL had legs. And so did the MS patients in their trial. So you can see how crucial to the research process these trips are."

 Si also explained that though it was initially looked  on as a setback, the findings have undoubtedly lead to new trials, therapies, and at least forestalled any new research and money being wasted on such a 'dim witted' hypothesis. Most likely the 'eureka moment'  only  resulted in another trip to the hotel spa and a cold drink for the researchers. Which was not a bad outcome for many of the patients waiting for trial results.

"It could have been a lot worse. Had the research been  released prematurely, we might have had people traveling to far off places to get their lower limbs hacked off, without their doctors  approval or oversight, in a desperate attempt to lower their odds of landing in a wheelchair due to MS."

Thankfully, UST researchers are responsibly keeping quiet about their coffee  research until they know for sure what they don't know. At which point, a coin toss will determine whether or not the results should be released or if a trip to the Serengeti  would be fun first.

Monday, June 15, 2015

My Face Is Up Here

Not that looks are important. We all know it's appearances that count. Unless you home school. Then you wear whatever  you can find and you can show your student ID card if the fashion police catch you.

Fortunately, the only social outing we had this week was to a homeschoolers' event so as long as we could run faster than the other sweatpants-snow boot-sporting kids we were safe.

Unfortunately, its been really warm here so snow boots were out of the question. Which was a bummer because Malachi has snow boots. In fact right at this  moment, snow boots are all that he has. He outgrew his regular shoes and his water sandals got left at the Grandparent's this weekend. Normally that would not be a problem as there is generally someone wanting to or needing to stay home from any errand we need to run. But everyone wanted to go to the much anticipated delayed-yearbooks-and-pizza-party.

So, also due to the warm weather, I decided socks would be just fine for Malachi. It must have been fate, because we actually found matching socks for him. Not so much for Fiona.

             Not that she cared at all. She was just as confident striding around the parking lot, as if she were wearing Jimmy Choo's, instead of her brother's mismatched hand me down socks. Socks rarely get worn out. Or worn period. There are plentiful, at least half of them. The other half have migrated to wherever it is kids' socks go. Thank goodness snow boots are  shoes AND socks in one great package.

 Shorts? Oh, he knows how to make shorts. He also has a t-shirt he made himself when the warm weather caught us by surprise. But he decided to wear his fancier one that day.
We got our books, pizza, and some treats and hid in the shade of a much-appreciated chestnut tree.
Then quickly hopped into the air-conditioned car. Where the kids reenacted  this scene from Eric the Viking. Please tell me this is how your kids get in that car too.