Monday, September 30, 2013

Two Truths and a Lie

We played Two Truths and a Lie last week with the kids. You know, that's where you list three things about yourself, but only two of them are true. The other players try to guess which is the lie. We haven't played this game before as a family and some of the kids were really getting into it. I could see Sadie thinking hard about what she would choose. Trying hard not to forget, she grabbed a piece of paper and wrote her items down. I chuckled as she read her list to us and then chuckled again when I found it the next day. Too cute!

I've sneezed by sniffing pepper.
I've sold cookies at a lemonade stand 
and I've eaten a peanut butter cookie with bread.

Can you guess which one is not true?
It's tough, but it's the last one. Silly girl. :)

Saturday, September 28, 2013


Last year, Sterling's music teacher challenged him to compose a piece for the recorder consort. Sterling came up with a fun little number that was performed a couple of times by a select group of students on recorders ranging from bass to soprano. This year, his teacher has issued a bigger challenge: Compose something for the band.

Feeling a little overwhelmed by the task, Sterling doesn't really know where to start. There are a lot of instruments in a band. He hasn't been very enthusiastic about the assignment so I decided to expose him to some first class band music. Cue TBDBITL (pronounced Tuh-BID-dl). If you know anything about The Ohio State University, you probably know that stands for "The Best [Darn] Band In The Land," and for good reason. These guys are amazing!

This video-game-inspired halftime show is nothing but fun.  It starts with Space Invaders so you know what you're looking at. My favorite parts are Tetris (1:25), Pac-Man (8:20) and the horse (6:07). The horse is totally amazing! My kids also liked Pokemon (0:30, 0:55). Watch and enjoy!!

Friday, September 27, 2013

Just Reading

Soren, at age 2, enjoying a good book
Soren loves to read. He enjoys snuggling up with a good book and losing himself in the story.

Soren hates to write about his reading. He despises reading logs and school assignments based on what he reads. Just knowing there is a reading log waiting to be filled out sucks all the fun out of reading so reading becomes a chore and something to be ignored until it just can't be ignored any longer.

Being the mom, I try to encourage him. "It's not that bad," I say. "You worry about it longer than it takes to do it. Just do it and get it over with." But it's just not that easy for Soren. He stews and storms and procrastinates.

This week he took matters into his own hands. On Tuesday he showed me this note.

Dear Ms. Goodchild,
     I hate writing about my reading. It takes away the enjoyment of reading. I used to love to read, but now I don't. I will happily read 30 minutes without writing about it. In my mind, I look at what I'm going to do after my reading. Write. So, just to let you know about that.

When Soren says he'll happily read for 30 minutes with no writing, he's trying to make up for the 20 minute reading + writing that is currently assigned. He turned the note into Ms. Goodchild's basket on Wednesday.

On Thursday she talked with him about it. Their compromise: Soren doesn't have to fill in his reading log. He will read 30 minutes and then discuss what he read with Ms. Goodchild the next day. Soren is pleased. For the record, Soren is a great writer and has plenty of other writing opportunities in school. He loves to make up stories and has a great imagination. He just doesn't like writing about his reading. I think this is a win/win situation and I applaud Ms. Goodchild for being open minded enough to work with a determined little boy.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

It's Not All About Football

Last year I heard of an incident where a football player from our local high school issued some pretty explicit death threats to another student via texting. When the incident was brought to school authorities, they told the parents to make the police aware of the situation, then basically slapped the hand of the football player and no further action was taken. I was appalled. I've heard of students getting expelled for much less, but hey, don't touch our beloved football players.

So I was cheering as I read this article about a coach at Union High School in Roosevelt, Utah who suspended all 80 players on his football team until they cleaned up their act. There was bullying, poor school performance, disrespect to teachers, etc. that needed to stop. So the players had to prove themselves through community service, character education, study hall and service within their families to re-earn a spot on the team.

“I think football molds character,” Labrum said. “We want to help our parents raise their sons. We want to be a positive influence. We want to be an asset.”

The players were devastated after the initial meeting, but as the team is coming together again and they are learning life lessons, their attitudes are changing. Only two of the eight team captains stayed the same. This is from one of them:

“I still have the love for it [football] and everything,” he said Monday while leaning on a shovel he was using to remove weeds as part of his community service. “But it helped me realize, it’s not all about football.”

I love this! I love every part of it. I love the coach for being brave enough to hold his players accountable. I love the administration and parents for standing behind him. I love the players for rising to the challenge and becoming better young men. This will be a winning season for Union High School no matter what the scoreboard says.

Bravo! Standing ovation from me.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Hummingbird Territory

I was cleaning out the storage room the other day and came across our hummingbird feeder. Even though it's pretty late in the season, I filled it up and put it outside. To my surprise, we had a hummingbird at the feeder the same day. Within a day or two we saw two birds there. This morning, the younger kids and I we were thoroughly entertained as we watched three hummingbirds try to stake their claim. One would proudly perch on top of the feeder holder and watch for the others. If they dared to come around, he promptly chased them away. Occasionally, one would make it to the feeder and grab a quick drink before being driven away. Once in a while the bully hummingbird wouldn't show and the other two could drink together in peace. There's plenty to go around, crazy birds!

Staking his claim.

Can you see the 2nd hummingbird on the other side of the feeder?

Monday, September 23, 2013


Jeff power-washed the outside of our house a few weeks ago. The combination of the mist from the sprayer and the sun shining through the trees was simply awesome.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Another Driver in the Family

Only two days after the big birthday and Savannah was equipped to hit the streets, alone. If she was anxious to turn 16, getting her license was one big reason why. She's pretty happy!

One big perk of living in our little corner of the world is the DMV. It's not exactly the happening place it seems to be in other parts of the country. Yesterday morning, Jeff and Savannah left for the DMV just after it opened at 8:00 and they were home before 8:30, new license in hand. Yay!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Finally Sixteen

Never has there been a more anticipated birthday in the history of birthdays. Well, at least not in the Stowell household.
Sweet Sixteen

Savannah Janae holding Savannah Jane

Savannah is finally sixteen and that magical age sure took its own sweet time getting here. At least that's how it felt to her. I, on the other hand, can't figure out how it got here so fast!

Age 4

Age 6
Age 8

Age 10

Age 12

Age 14
It's been a fun ride and I'm sure, knowing Savannah, there are many exciting adventures to come!

Happy Birthday, Savannah! I hope 16 is your best year so far. :)

Friday, September 13, 2013

Quail Eggs

One day at church, a cute little basket was perched atop the coat rack with a handwritten note that said something along the lines of:

Fresh Quail Eggs -- Help Yourself.

Honestly, we laughed a little when we saw it. Quail eggs? What exactly do you do with quail eggs? After talking to another member and learning that quail eggs are considered a delicacy in some parts of the world, a couple of my boys started feeling brave. We tracked down the man who brought them and asked if he had any tips. "Just use them like regular eggs," was his advice. So we brought a bag home. Aren't they cute? They are so little, not much bigger than a quarter. (The bowl in the photo is small - less than 4" in diameter - to give you an idea how small the eggs are.)

Spencer and Sterling tried them. Spencer said they are hard to crack. The shells fall off just fine, but the inner lining is tough and hard to get through. According to Sterling, they look and taste just like regular eggs, only smaller.

Kind of fun to try something new!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And I Don't Even Speak Italian

You may remember last year when I was so excited about indexing the 1940 US Census records. It was a great project that kept me busy whenever I had a little down time last summer. Unfortunately, the project was started and finished all within about six months. It ended right about the time school began and I was pretty busy with other things for a few months. Occasionally, when I thought about it, I tried other indexing projects. I spent some time on Draft Cards or WWI Pension Cards or various other projects, but nothing caught my interest like the census so I really wasn't indexing much at all. 

That all changed earlier this summer. My friend, who happens to be our Indexing director, asked me if I'd consider working on a large project to index Italian birth records, 1875 and on. She promised me that, with a little training and practice, I would be able to learn all I needed to become proficient at finding and transcribing the necessary information.

In truth, my first batch of 15 names took me between 2-3 hours! It was grueling as I struggled to locate the needed information, find the Italian months and dates on my cheat sheet and read the old script to figure out each name. Fortunately I didn't give up. I've been working on these Italian records for about 3 months and now I can usually finish a batch in 15 to 20 minutes. Once again, indexing is something I look forward to every day. 

It's exciting to be part of a project that is making this information easily available to those who are searching for their ancestors. The Italian project is best suited for those who are already familiar with indexing, but there are roughly 200 indexing projects available in a variety of languages and certainly something for everyone who has an interest in helping. 

It can be addicting. Consider yourself warned! :)

Friday, September 6, 2013

The Power of Words, part 2

Have you watched the video I posted the other day about the power of words? I came across it while I was preparing a lesson for my kids on the subject. As I pondered the topic for two or three weeks, I also came across several quotes that made their way into my lesson. I'm a collector of quotes and these are some pretty good ones. I'm posting them here because they are worth sharing. Enjoy!

It doesn’t matter if you and everyone else
in the room are thinking it. You don’t say
the words. Words are weapons.  –Richard Kadrey

Three things in human life are important.
The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind.
And the third is to be kind.  –Henry James

If you judge people,
you have no time to love them. –Mother Teresa

Treat people as if they were what they ought to be
and you help them to become what they
are capable of being –Goethe

What do we live for if not to make life
less difficult for each other? –George Eliot

When we attack people with whom we disagree,
we injure or even end our ability to resolve disputes.
Each time we raise the temperature in the discourse
it is harder to reconcile differences. We raise
a barrier of hate and anger. –Constance Lundburg

Now, to avoid offense, we must be serious about neither giving it nor taking it. We will always have to deal with thoughtless people. Sometimes our own lack of experience makes us insensitive when we would intend to be otherwise. Some days are so busy, and because we’re tired or in a hurry, we speak before we think. Unquestionably, opportunities to give and take offense are plentiful. I suggest, however, that you never intentionally litter the lives of your associates with offenses. And don’t pick up an offense when others drop it. This is your mother speaking: Don’t pick it up! –Elaine L. Jack

I read in a book once that a rose
by any other name would smell as sweet,
but I’ve never been able to believe it.
I don’t believe a rose WOULD be as nice
if it was called a thistle or a skunk cabbage.
–L.M. Montgomery

Let us look for the good rather than try to discover
any hidden evil. We can easily find fault in others
if that is what we are looking for…
Let us remember, too, that the further out of line
or out of tune we ourselves are, the more we are inclined
to look for error or weakness in others
and to try to rationalize and justify our own faults
rather than to try to improve ourselves. –N. Eldon Tanner

To a considerable extent, people act as we expect them to act. If we expect the worst from people, we are likely to get it. If we are always criticizing, emphasizing weakness, and looking for others’ faults and dwelling on them, we may give them the impression that we expect them to behave in the very manner we criticize; we thus encourage the negative behavior that we are always emphasizing. The principle of the self-fulfilling prophecy is suggested in the words of Elder Tanner: ‘If we will always look for the best in others, in our friends, in our neighbors, in our wife, in our husband, in our children, they will turn out to be the most wonderful people in the world. On the other hand, if we are looking for their weaknesses and faults and enlarge upon them, these same people may become even despicable.’ –Kenneth L. Higbee

Words are like eggs dropped from great heights;
you can no more call them back than ignore
the mess they leave when they fall. –Jodi Picoult

The best and most clear indicator
that we are progressing spiritually
and coming unto Christ
is the way we treat other people.
–Marvin J. Ashton

Many of us have been hurt by being called names, and we have hurt others by using unkind or unwise words. As children we heard, “Sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” We all know this is false, especially those among us who have been called names when we were young, who were told we were stupid or ugly or always doing dumb things. Often the damage done by words is worse than damage done by physical violence. In reality we should handle our words as carefully as we would handle a gun, because both can have devastating effects and bring about long-lasting pain to others and to ourselves. –Melvin J. Luthy

          Perhaps the greatest charity comes when we are kind to each other, when we don't judge or categorize someone else, when we simply give each other the benefit of the doubt or remain quiet. Charity is accepting someone's differences, weaknesses, and shortcomings; having patience with someone who has let us down; or resisting the impulse to become offended when someone doesn't handle something the way we might have hoped. Charity is refusing to take advantage of another's weakness and being willing to forgive someone who has hurt us. Charity is expecting the best of each other.
          None of us need one more person bashing or pointing out where we have failed or fallen short. Most of us are already well aware of the areas in which we are weak. What each of us does need is family, friends, employers, and brothers and sisters who support us, who have the patience to teach us, who believe in us, and who believe we're trying to do the best we can, in spite of our weaknesses. What ever happened to giving each other the benefit of the doubt? What ever happened to hoping that another person would succeed or achieve? What ever happened to rooting for each other? –Marvin J. Ashton

I think the last one is my favorite. Food for thought!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Jordan the Astronaut

My nephew is in a commercial for the Clark Planetarium in Utah. He's the young astronaut. When he sits down at the end, you can see my sister, his mom, over his shoulder on the left holding a tub of popcorn. The little boy sitting next to him is his brother. My kids think it's pretty awesome. So fun!

 And here's Jordan in their print ad. Cute little green man. :)

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

100 Years

November 2009
A few years ago, I posted about my friend Helen. She is a beautiful lady who is refined and independent. Helen is celebrating her 100th birthday today! I called her this morning and we had a nice visit, catching up and sharing news about our families. Helen still lives on her own in the cutest little house. She keeps herself busy and has a sharp memory. I want to be just like her! :)

Happy Birthday, Helen. I hope our paths cross again soon. And I hope 100 is your best year so far!