Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Too Much Time on My Hands, or Diversionary Tactics...

This is what the boys ate for lunch today. I wasn't sure if they'd eat the cold whole wheat pasta, but since there was ranch dressing to dip it in, I shouldn't have worried. There was also a side of slightly-runny-home-made-yogurt (with berries in it). If I use real milk, it turns out pretty well, a little runnier than store-bought, but spoon-able. If I use powdered milk it's pretty runny, which is fine, I just have to remember to serve it in a cup.

The boys love eating things that can be shaped into faces or flowers or whatever. I think it must be similar to the satisfaction of biting the heads off of animal crackers.

After I got the lunches assembled (mostly from left-overs out of the fridge) I thought to myself, wow, you have too much time on your hands. It's not really true, I realized, it's just that all of the things that I should be doing are not what I want to be doing, so I find ways to postpone them.

My lunch was also left-overs, but not in the shape of a face, in case you were wondering.

Monday, January 29, 2007

In-State Tuition

There was a nice editorial in the Trib yesterday. The author of this editorial says that Rep. Glenn Donnelsen who is sponsoring HB224 (to prohibit undocumented students from receiving in-state tuition) has misinterpreted the federal law. Reading the federal law, I can see how it might be misinterpreted.

US Code, Title 8, Chapter 14, Subchapter II, Section 1623a says:

Notwithstanding any other provision of law, an alien who is not
lawfully present in the United States shall not be eligible on the
basis of residence within a State (or a political subdivision) for
any postsecondary education benefit unless a citizen or national of
the United States is eligible for such a benefit (in no less an
amount, duration, and scope) without regard to whether the citizen
or national is such a resident.

It's confusing, and from what it looks like to me, Donnelson might just be right (as far as following bad law goes). It looks like unless a citizen of the US can get in-state tuition regardless of residency, an undocumented student can't. But non-resident citizens CAN get in-state tuition after meeting some other requirements (one of which is residency for a certain period) which an undocumented student who has lived here and graduated from a local high school has already met, so then it would seem that an undocumented student should be eligible for in-state tuition.

I guess after reading the actual law, I would have to support Donnelson's bill IF he left out the part where undocumented students can't ever get in state tuition, because that is not what the law says. Leaving out that part makes the whole bill a big waste of time. It would be passing a bill that changes nothing. I'm glad they're making good use of their time up on the hill.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Who's Responsible?

My son wants a bird. A parrot specifically, so that he can teach it to talk. He also asked recently when he would stop being a kid and become a grown-up. You might wonder what these two things have in common... After he asked when he'd be a grown-up, I told him that there wasn't a set age at which someone becomes a grown-up. He then asked, "are some people kids forever?".

In some ways, yes.

It all comes down to one word. Responsibility.

One of the requirements for my son to prove he is responsible enough to help take care of a bird (which will NOT be a parrot) is to keep his toys picked up without whining. It's an important lesson to learn, to take care of the things you have and not expect someone else to come along and clean up the messes you make in your life. Be responsible for yourself and for the "things" in your life.

Responsibility is a big issue to me, and I could go on, but I'll save it for future posts.

Not so Inconvenient...

I finally saw Al Gore's movie, An Inconvenient Truth yesterday. I'll admit that I was not looking forward to it. A movie with Al Gore doing all the talking? What could be more boring!

I was pleasantly surprised. It was really well done. According to my father's science-community friends, it is pretty accurate too. There is some question as to whether warmer ocean temperatures increase the strength of hurricanes, but otherwise, the science is there and backs up everything in the movie.

I've seen and heard people argue passionately about whether global warming exists. My first thought is that whether global warming exists or not, there is nothing wrong with conserving resources. If it doesn't exist, you've saved yourself some money by using more efficient light bulbs, walking or using mass transit (or carpooling), and insulating your house. If it does exist, you've saved yourself some money, and done a small part to help keep our planet healthy. It's way too easy to blow off the idea of recycling or doing anything else that might seem "crazy, liberal, hippie, sierra club"-ish. I believe that we were created by a loving Heavenly Father, and that he placed us on earth and asked us to be good stewards to the things we have, so why do we go around driving SUV's when no one else is in the car? Why do we need to fill two huge cans with garbage every week? Why do we waste so much, and then make fun of people who are trying to be good stewards?

Between this movie and the current inversion we are suffering through, I'm really interested in learning more about what I can do. I hate that I can't let my kids play outside because the air is so disgusting. I don't even want to walk to pick up my son from school because I don't want to be outside any longer than I have to. We all have sore, tired eyes. We all feel a little more congested than normal. I blame the air.

Back to the movie, the title is interesting to me, because no one is asking anything terribly inconvenient of anyone. No one is suggesting we go live in a tree somewhere. The suggestions for improving carbon dioxide emissions are mostly small things that any of us can do without much trouble.

This website has the following list of suggestions, for more information on each suggestion and links go to the website.

What can I do?
Replace a regular incandescent light bulb with a compact fluorescent light bulb (cfl)
Move your thermostat down 2° in winter and up 2° in summer
Clean or replace filters on your furnace and air conditioner
Install a programmable thermostat
Choose energy efficient appliances when making new purchases
Wrap your water heater in an insulation blanket
Use less hot water
Use a clothesline instead of a dryer whenever possible
Turn off electronic devices you’re not using
Unplug electronics from the wall when you’re not using them
Only run your dishwasher when there’s a full load and use the energy-saving setting
Insulate and weatherize your home
Be sure you’re recycling at home
Buy recycled paper products
Plant a tree
Get a home energy audit
Switch to green power
Buy locally grown and produced foods
Buy fresh foods instead of frozen
Seek out and support local farmers markets
Buy organic foods as much as possible
Avoid heavily packaged products
Eat less meat
Reduce the number of miles you drive by walking, biking, carpooling or taking mass transit wherever possible
Start a carpool with your coworkers or classmates
Keep your car tuned up
Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated
When it is time for a new car, choose a more fuel efficient vehicle
Try telecommuting from home

Many of these things are things that my family is already doing, and most of them are things that are also money savers.

Save some money, take care of the earth, help improve air quality.

Someday, if my Mr. and I ever get to build a house, we'd like to include a solar panel, so I've been reading about solar panels and discovered that Rocky Mountain Power has a net metering system, where any power you create off the grid, is used first, reducing demand during peak usage times, and reducing your power bill. Any power you generate that you don't use is sold back to the power company. It's a good deal for everyone! Solar panels are not cheap, so it will have to wait until it can be bundled into the cost of building a new home.

In the meantime, I've signed up for one block of wind generated power from Rocky Mountain Power. The more demand for renewable power, the less it will cost. One block is equal to 100 kwh and adds $1.95 to your monthly power bill. I'll increase the amount we are purchasing in the future to cover all our power usage, but it's a start. You can find out more at theRocky Mountain Power website.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Growing Up

My Mister (who is wonderful) has been having discussions with his brothers about upcoming vacations. In their family, (off road) motorcycle riding is a big deal, and most (if not all) of the camping trips revolve around "rides".

The youngest of the brothers, who is married with a fairly new baby, made the following comment in an email: Let's talk about who this vacation is for. It is a vacation for our family to disrupt the blidge of daily living. I go to school from 7:45 am till about 5 pm everyday. I work twenty hours a week. Every other time I have avaliable is spent with my family. I love to play with my little girl and talk to my wife and be with her. I see them everyday!!! Is that bad? Do I love to see them everyday? Of course I do, but the point of the vacation is to have a break from that daily routine. Why in the world would I go [on vacation] to do the exact the same thing I do at home. I want to ride my motorcycle and go to the river and swim and have fun around the campfire.

My Mister LOVES to go riding with his brothers. I think that there are very few things which rate above that particular activity, but after reading that email from his brother, he was a little irritated. Little brother needs to grow up. Fun with brothers is great, and I try to encourage appropriate amounts of that sort of activity, but not at the expense of my sanity or my children's time with their dad.

I'm not all that old (although sometimes I feel otherwise), but I can see over the last 10 years or so what "growing up" means. I appreciate my parents even more for all the sacrifices they made for me. As a child, the world revolves around you and what you want (or what you don't get). As you get older, you realize that you have to sacrifice your own wants in order to fulfill your responsibilities.

We can't live "college life" forever, no matter how hard we want to hold on to that time in our life. I loved college. There was always something going on, something to "do", and everything was about having fun with relatively few responsibilities (that's leaving out the actual school, homework, and job part, but I managed to fit those in and still have plenty of fun). I have a friend who didn't get married as early as I did. She is now done with her MSW and is working on getting her LCSW certification. I'm envious. Part of me would like to be there, but that's something I sacrificed because I wanted other things in my life. There will be a time for those things later.

Little brother is obviously still in the egocentrism part of his development. We all go through it. Some people just have a harder time moving on than others. For his wife's sanity, I hope he figures it out soon. Family vacations are not so much fun if the "men" go off and leave the wives at camp to tend the children.

Sometimes you just have to grow up (and you just might find that being a grown up has it's very own set of perks and amusements).

A Commentary on School Vouchers

This was in today's deseret morning news....

Proponents of private school vouchers have seized the rhetorical high ground, using terms like "equal opportunity" and "parental choice" to justify their efforts. The Deseret Morning News has apparently been dazzled by this doublespeak.
Let us set the record straight.
Salt Lake City School District supports both universal excellence and public school choice. We offer a variety of programs, philosophies, and instructional strategies. Twenty-five percent of our students exercise meaningful choice, enrolling in schools outside their residence area. We are proud of our ability to use data to drive instruction, our menu of effective interventions, and the pathways we have built for advanced learners.
Our committed public educators have much in common with talented teachers in private schools. We do not blame parents who think vouchers may help them do what is best for their children. On the contrary, we hope they'll stay with us, work with us, to find the solutions they desire. Nevertheless, we challenge those who have already abandoned public education to think about the harm vouchers will do.
Vouchers let Utah legislators off the hook. They do nothing to address underfunding of public school programs. They will not reduce class size, train teachers, develop innovative curricula, rebuild unsafe facilities or pay rising transportation costs. Powerful legislators say, "More money is not the whole solution." We agree. However, less money is no solution at all. Vouchers mean fewer dollars for public schools in a state that already ranks dead last in per-pupil funding.
Vouchers deepen social divides and leave taxpayers without a voice. Even "means-tested" vouchers cannot provide equal access. Transportation and tuition costs will continue to discriminate, further dividing our community. Private schools choose the children they serve, and they tend not to serve children with special needs. Who will ensure that students on vouchers will not be counseled out of their private schools because they prove difficult to teach or discipline? Private schools typically do not meet accountability standards required of public schools, and taxpayers would have little say in how voucher dollars might be used.
Vouchers do not prevent "double taxation." All families pay education taxes only once. Tuition is a voluntary payment to a private institution. People who hire private security firms do not get vouchers from police departments. Private school tuition is not a tax in any sense of the word.
Vouchers compromise the separation of church and state and violate the Utah State Constitution. Respect for religious diversity has never been more important than it is today. We must shore up the 200-year-old constitutional protections for our rights of conscience. By opening the door for public money to flow to religious institutions, in direct violation of Utah's constitution (Articles I and X), vouchers chip away at those safeguards.
Make no mistake. Vouchers are weapons employed in a strategic attack on our public institutions. The voucher movement betrays the public good by encouraging narrow-minded self-interest and a willingness to turn away from our responsibilities to each other. The goal is to funnel government support toward private and corporate gain and to de-emphasize government's social stewardship.
Voucher proponents do not care for the students who will suffer as a result of their plans. We hope our representatives will care and will refuse to give up on the civic mission of public education.
Heather Bennett, Doug Nelson, Kristi Swett, Cliff Higbee, Mark Maxfield, Alama Uluave and Laurel Young are members of the Salt Lake City Board of Education.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


I haven't bought honeycombs for awhile, although it's one of our "favorite" breakfast cereals. It goes on sale fairly often, so the other day, I bought a couple of boxes.

Something has changed.... From internet searches, it appears that Post has changed the ingredients a bit, upping the fiber content. Normally I'd say that's a good thing, but the texture is now reminiscent of styrofoam pellets. I'm very disappointed.

I'm going to have to start buying the fake brand. Hopefully they are not as concerned about fiber content.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Ethics Reform

Here's a quote from a Deseret Morning News article about Governor Huntsman's State of the State speech. (emphasis added by me)

The biggest surprise in the speech that came on the second day of the 2007 Legislature was the ethics reform package, which includes a gift ban as well as a two-year "cooling-off" period for executive branch employees who want to lobby after leaving government. "It's an idealistic experiment," Senate President John Valentine, R-Orem, said of the reforms, which the governor said he would implement quickly through an executive order. "We've got to see how it works. ... There are a lot of unanswered questions."
Both Valentine and House Speaker Greg Curtis, R-Sandy, said they saw no need for the reforms and questioned whether they'd be able to talk to former lawmakers who have joined the administration, including Jeff Alexander, a former member of House leadership. Lawmakers have long been reluctant to pass ethics reforms, even for the executive branch. Curtis said Huntsman was no doubt attempting to pressure lawmakers to enact their own reforms. "That's the role of the governor. Absolutely," the speaker said.
House Minority Leader Ralph Becker, D-Salt Lake, said he hoped lawmakers would feel obligated to take action but wasn't holding his breath

I have never thought much about Governor Huntsman. I always kind of viewed him as buying (through money or his name, take your pick) the position, but I have been impressed with some of his goals recently. Funding education, doing more than just throwing money into the prison system as a way of dealing with meth addiction... I also liked what he had to say about ethics reform.

I find it interesting that the senate president and the house speaker both think the reforms are not needed. It seems to me, if reforms aren't needed, then they aren't going to negatively affect anyone, but they would make the general public feel warm and fuzzy, so they would be a good move politically. If Valentine and Curtis don't see that, then maybe they're trying to avoid ethics reform for other reasons...

Building Forts

A few days ago during lunch, my Mr. told our kids all about the forts that he and his brothers built when they were kids. The 5-year-old's eyes, especially, got bigger and bigger.... Here are the boys with the flag that the 5-year-old designed. He spelled the words "Stop" and "No" all by himself, but had to ask for help when he wanted to write "Please Knock" on the back side of the flag. I believe the main pictures on the flag are of skulls and cross bones.
The kids often make little forts out of their small blankets and couch cushions, but with their dad's help, they had a fort that filled the whole family room. I think they are planning on doing it again (and sleeping in the fort) when the baby is born.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

New Posts

In the past, to post photos, I have used Photobucket to post pictures on my blog. For the past several months, photobucket has not been working- I can't upload any pictures to it, so my blogging has kind of slowed down.

Today, thanks to my sister's Mister, I signed up for a Flickr account and am now able to post pictures again.

That's why there's a rush of posts today- I'm catching up.

Better than eating out...

One of my new-year's resolutions was to plan ahead better for meals. The first week, was really good (we ended up with way too many left-overs though). Since then I have not done as well, although I think it is too much to expect to have perfectly planned meals every night. Sometimes you just have to have pancakes or chipped beef gravy on toast.

I was in the mood for mexican food, but our dining-out budget was used up, so I decided to make enchiladas one night. I planned ahead, and when the Mr. was grilling up some chicken for another well-planned meal (chicken broccoli alfredo), I had him grill some extra chicken. I chopped it up and put it in the freezer. On the day I wanted to make enchiladas, I took it out to defrost.

The enchiladas are made with chicken, olives, sour cream and enchilada sauce from a can. The filling is rolled into corn tortillas, then smothered in more enchilada sauce. On the side, I made spanish rice (in rice cooker, add a little tomato sauce, garlic, and chili powder to water- mix well, add rice and turn on), refried beans (we bought a bunch of dehydrated refried beans for our food storage, and they are actually pretty good), and topped everything off with chopped lettuce, tomatoes, olives and a dab of sour cream (oh, and shredded cheese of course). The Mr. had to take a picture of it, he thought it looked so nice.

Usually I just let people serve themselves, but this meal needed to be served plated. The kids were not huge fans of the meal, I think the enchilada sauce was a little too spicey.

Why have I forgotten all my snowboard lingo?

My Mister took our 5-year-old snowboarding last week. We rented the board the night before, and the 5-year-old spent all evening and the next morning strapped into his boots "practicing".

He did really well. Less than halfway down the mountain on their first time down, the 5-year-old said to his dad, "let go, I can do it myself!"

Way to Go PTA!!!

When my 5-year-old started kindergarten last fall, my Mister and I joined the PTA. We don't actually participate, but we paid our dues. I think that the local PTA does some really nice things for the school (which is why I joined/gave money to support them).

Several months ago the PTA was doing an anti-drug week of some sort, and one day, my 5-year-old brought home a can of soda pop that had a sticker on it saying something like "I CAN STOMP out drugs". It was very clever. I put the can in the fridge, and forgot about it.

Last night I made pizza for dinner, so my Mister pulled out the can thinking that the 5-year-old could drink it with his pizza. he looked at the ingredient list, since it was a store-brand and a name we were unfamiliar with. It had caffeine in it! What in the world is the PTA doing sending home caffeinated beverages with kindergartners? If I had noticed several months ago when the can came home, I would have called the school to make sure that something like that didn't happen again, as it is, it's kind of late...

I'm sure that whoever was buying all the cans of soda pop just picked out a bunch of different kinds and overlooked the fact that this one contained caffeine. I can't imagine anyone knowingly buying caffeinated drinks for elementary school children.

Thursday, January 11, 2007


Today in the mail, we got an advertisement from playboy. Sign up now, free issues! (something like that, I tore it up pretty fast)

I am disgusted that something like that would come in the mail unsolicited. What if my 5-year-old had gone to pick up the mail? I've gotten advertisements from Victoria's Secret before, but they at least usually have an email or phone number to call if I don't wish to continue getting those advertisements. I'm not sure what to do about this. We got an equally disgusting magazine advertisement several months ago. I'm wondering if my Mister's ESPN magazine subscription is getting his name put on lists we would rather not be on...

Any ideas?


I posted this in the comments, but thought it would be good just to include it in my post too. There is a form you can fill out with the US Postal Service to block sexually explicit mailings from being sent to your address.

Form 1500