Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Putting It Back Together -- A Little

To update:
Our van was ready, then not, then ready, but not quite, then they gave up and rented us a van (which of course the kids liked better than our car. of course.) and then they promptly got it all working. I picked it up last night, signed my savings away and received a baseball cap in return with "ACTION TRANSMISSION" on the front and "get your shift in gear" on the back. That is the honest truth. The Most Expensive Baseball Cap Ever as the professor calls it.
* * * * *
I found out while folding clothes last week that Joss is a laundry savant. I would hold up a shirt -- any shirt -- and he would tell me who it belongs to. This included a brand new shirt only two weeks old, and others which were hand-me-downs from Will to Sebi. He is paying a lot of attention to people around the house.
You might expect me to say "I should fold clothes more often! Who knows what else I might discover about my family!"
But no.
What I thought was "Now I can just send Joss off with Rob and a basket of clothes and they'll all get to the right people!"
* * * * *
The dishwasher repair technician came by and replaced the control panel on the front door. It likely won't improve the performance, but it will stem the tide of recall notices coming our way.
* * * * *
Sebastian was given two tickets to go see JIGU! the thunder drums of China at BYU. On the way in I was telling him how excited I was to go on a date with just him. In his usual understated fashion, he told me that this was ok, but he'd really rather go to Panda Express for his date. I think I talked him into Shoots instead.
* * * * *
The camera came back, doing things that it hasn't in many moons. Unfortunately it has had a falling out with my computer and they're not speaking. I'm going to have to spend more time finding some software or a driver to mediate. If their differences are reconcilable, I'll be able to post pictures from our trip to Idaho.
* * * * *
Last week we took the three older kids to see BYU's production of die Zauberflote. They did have a family matinee, but Rob deemed his children experts enough to see the whole thing. The songs were in German with supertitles,with speaking in English in between. The kids got into it. Sebastian had to be convinced to leave early because he was so tired, but I stayed with Maddie and Will to the end.

Monday, October 25, 2010

"I can take a chainsaw and make a treat:" Primary Halloween songs

(A guest post by the Professor)

I am really lucky. I am the music leader for the "Primary," teh children's organization in our church congregation. I have the marvelous job of singing with 50-70 kids each Sunday morning.

It is the best calling in the church--by far. Especially when the Primary leaders are not part of the Mormon Taliban who cry "Heresy!" at the least hint of un-orthadox behavior. The four women who are in charge of the Primary in our congregation are fantastic: very low-key and supportive. Even yesterday, when I pulled out some hallo-weeny upgrades of some of our musical favorites.

The children have been very good and reverent for weeks on end as we have prepared for our annual program. They deserved a break.

I told the kids that I had looked very hard and found Halloween hymns in our Children's Songbook, right before the Thanksgiving Hymns (anyone who knows the Songbook knows that you can look long and hard for anything spooky except for the Janice Kapp Perry arrangements).

Actually, with the help of my own kids, we brainstormed the following songs. They were a big hit, and I give you permission to spread the spookiness across the Kingdom of Zion!

1. Once there was a Vampire (I had them turn up their shirt collars and sing it with a thick Transylvanian accent to the tune of "Once their was a Snowman:"

Once there was a Vampire, Vampire Vampire
Once there was a Vampire Tall, Tall Tall

In the sun he shriveled, shriveled, shriveled
In the sun he shriveled small, small, small (writhe on the floor like at the end of Nosferatu)

Alternate Verse:

Once their was a Bad Witch....Tall Tall Tall,
In the rain she melted...small small small (What a World!)

2. Skeleton Song (To the tune of "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes...")

Skull, Shoulders, Kneecaps and Toe-Bones..
Eye-holes, Ear-holes, Mouth and Nose-holes

3. "The Deadcart" (To the tune of "The Oxcart Song," with apologies to Monty Python):

Here comes the Dead-cart, oh how slow
It's pulled by a monk, of course you know
Its wooden wheels squeak as they roll along
"Bring out your dead!" Bring out your dead!"
Is their song

4. "Boo as I'm Booing" (just like "Do as I'm Doing," but with ghostly shrieks and wails)

5. "Zombies Popping up" (this is Maddie's creation. I only let the older kids do this one for obvious reasons. To the tune of "Popcorn Popping" and with lurching, gagging effects):

I looked out the window and what did I see
Zombies popping up and coming after me.
Halloween brought me such a nasty surprise
Zombies popping up before my eyes

I can take a chainsaw and make a treat
Some Zombie-Slaw that will fill the street
It wasn't really so, but it seemed to me
Zombies popping up and coming after me.

I must say, I felt the spirit after the senior primary got finished with that one. Should I be worried about my daughter coming up with the term "Zombie-Slaw?

Good, Clean Holiday Fun.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Wait for it...Wait for it...

....and.....the heater just made a horrible sound and died.

McFarlands: 0 The Universe: 5

Hand-washing dishes, chopping wood for the fireplace to keep warm:

We're partying like it's 1929!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Black Monday

(Guest post from the Professor)

Within 24 hours we have seen the untimely demise of the following:

1 Canon EOS 35mm Camera

2 (count 'em: both) of our automobiles.

1 Bosch Dishwasher.

Combined with Joss' recent denuding of two laptop computer keyboards, a downstairs kitchen leak that left a gaping hole in the wall, the demise of a vacuum cleaner, an active leak in the roof and the impending death of our entire heating system, we are wondering of someone has Professor and Mary Ann-shaped voodoo dolls on their dresser.  

On the other hand, our car carried us safely back from Idaho and Wyoming, and we are not currently stuck at a transmission shop in Evanston.  As the artist known as "Owl City" has sung:
"Every mushroom cloud has a silver lining..."

Friday, October 08, 2010

Announcing . . .

our next study abroad. Check it out and tell all your BYU students to come!
check out the amazing video here (I tried to put it on the blog, but it was too big!)

Thursday, October 07, 2010

October's Menus

Rob thinks that I need to post this for posterity.
I started planning menus after discovering Leanne Ely with her Saving Dinner method. It has made shopping with kids easier in the store, I've saved money, I have to do less thinking during the day, and dinner is on the table by the time my ravenous swimmers come home. It has also allowed me to keep a really poorly-stocked pantry!

(I have used the Saving Dinner sample menus, shopping lists and recipes in the past. They're easy to follow, I love the fact that I can print out her shopping list, and my kids always eat them with gusto. I also used her make-ahead meals for the crockpot when I was pregnant with, um, someone (Joss?). Aside from the fact that I couldn't keep down green peppers, these were great too; take one out and throw it in the crockpot, then shut the door and run to the other end of the house until dinnertime.)

I've done better and I've done worse through the years, but last month we had some big expenses stacking up and so I planned meals mostly from the pantry through the rest of the month. It worked so well that I went ahead and chose dinners for all of October at once. Mostly it helped me not repeat, use the sauces I just bothered to preserve, and buy a few meats in bulk for the month. I stuck the things we have in the freezer/things I canned up on top because we know how many jars and bags we should use up per month.
Here are my menu-planning rules:
  • I only worry about dinners. I stock staples for breakfast and usually have leftovers for lunch.
  • I only worry about entrees. I stock regular items for side dishes like vegetables, or pair typical things with specific entrees (coleslaw with pulled pork, spaetzle and red cabbage with goulash)
  • I don't assign days, just cross things off the list.
  • I aim for 4 days/week of eating vegetarian. The list below is 17 out of 31. We could probably do better here, but the kids begin to protest loudly if they see too many vegetables and not enough carbs and proteins on their plates.

Here's the list of October's dinner menus:
1. pesto pasta
2. sweet & sour over rice
3. lasagne
4. lobster bisque with bread
5. fried rice
6. tomato basil pasta soup
8. chicken chili
9. soft tacos
10. chicken curry
11. breakfast for dinner
12. mexican lasagne
13. pulled pork sandwiches
14. hawaiian beans
15. pizza
16. sweet potato quesadillas
18. cauliflower curry
19. red sauce pasta
20. pineapple peanut stew
22. latkes
24. goulash
25. salmon patties
27. salmon wraps
28. chicken soup
29. punt restaurant dinner
30. vegetable frittata
31. pesto pasta

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

We're Still Here!

So I guess that last post was also saying aloha to blogging for a month.
I just can't blog. First, I took the camera in to be fixed. We were shooting everything at a sport film speed, nothing was in focus, and the repairman kept referring to some sort of "impactive event". I didn't have the heart to tell him that it wasn't a single event, but rather a lifestyle for this camera. Chasing toddlers over cobblestones has led to many, many impactive events.

I'm still waiting to see if he can do anything about that, when Joss had a moment alone with my laptop. He flicked off the enter key, B, N, L, Y, +, . , / keys and the space bar! It is really painful and difficult to type these days, so I just avoid the computer. But things have been steaming along in the meantime, so here are a few soundbites.

Will and I were at the table doing [frustrating] math homework. He was so angry and finally choked out "You guys are making my life THE HECK!" He repeated it several times, always with a definite article. This was a far cry from his early days -- one year in the Christmas letter we explained that he could make any word sound like an expletive, and often did. Some of them were "dumpster" "waistband" "armpit" and "soda pop liker". I guess a decade in happy valley will do that to your cursing capabilities.

Effects of unplugging the tube continue to crop up -- on being televisionally challenged: I'm driving kids home and the conversation turns to madrassas and Three Cups of Tea, the building of schools and religious fanaticism/terrorists. He tells me that he and Isaac learned about the Taliban by checking out ESPN online.

Sebastian, recounting highlights of a birthday party: " . . . and we had juice."
MA: "Did you, now?"
Sebastian: "Yah, but I didn't have any."
MA: "Really? How come?"
Sebastian: "I had milk. 'Cause I don't wanna be one of those fat kids."
MA: ?!

Maddie shows me a binder of her writing tests from last year. She must have paid attention to one of Rob's favorite phrases, "swore like a longshoreman with Tourette's", because among other great lines, she has this one in a persuasive essay on TV and kids: "No one wants to hear a six-year-old swearing like a sailor with rickets."

Rob and I were jogging and looking at some girl's darling heart-shaped sweatmark on her back as she passed us. Me: "I'll bet I don't have a sweatmark shaped like a heart" Rob, looking: "No, it looks more like Strongbad."

We got Maddie interested in reading Emma after seeing Pride & Prejudice in Cedar City. Then we showed her Clueless, which is 15 years old now (!) and still so clever. The kids have been quoting lines since then. I tell Joss to get off the counter. He looks at me and says "WAT-EV-ERRRRR!"