...and they all lived happily ever after...

...and they all lived happily ever after...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Our dog is the king of our flock of chickens

This is our dog, Finn (looks all regal doesn't he).


And these are our chickens (and also my feet).


Our girls are pretty happy, and they get plenty of love and attention from the family (I would never have guessed that mealworms would be a beloved item around our house...but everyone loves the chance to feed a handful to these voracious ladies).


During the day, we often let our little flock roam our backyard.  They explore things and peck at things and regularly get startled by a noise or an unexpected plant (seriously).  Then they run their squawky selves back to their coop as fast as their skinny legs will carry them and chat about the danger before venturing out again.  It's mildly comical. 

Finn, for the most part, just watches their antics from a distance.  I've long thought he kind of loved them (he's been highly fascinated with them since they joined the household), but my children began to think otherwise.  I started to get occasional reports from my kidlets that Finn was chasing the chickens in the yard.

Well, we can't have that, so I started paying close attention.


Sure enough, I encountered several occasions where the dog did, in fact, chase the chickens.

But not in the way I originally imagined it.

Through my observations, I have come to learn that Finn is, in all truth, the king of this flock of hens.  And so, he manages his subjects which in this case means that he keeps them safe and controlled by maneuvering the group so that they stay happily contained in the yard and not too far from their home.

So, if the ladies wander further from their coop than Finn deems appropriate, he takes action and gently guides them back home.  He stays close to his harem, and he does NOT like it if others intervene with the gals.  He also reminds his ladies to stay together (safety in numbers you know), so if one hen wanders off he carefully drives her back to the group so she knows she isn't alone.  



It's like an episode of Nature right in my own backyard.

I knew Brittany Spaniels were a breed of bird dog, I guess I just didn't realize exactly what that could entail.

Finn:  Chicken Monarch Extraordinaire  

Monday, May 1, 2017

Talking Porn at Church

So on Sunday, Josh and I gave a lesson on fighting pornography to the adults and youth in our ward.



Now, generally speaking, "hey we give a lesson in church" is not exactly cause for a blog post.

However, this happens to be a topic that I feel really strongly about.  Pornography has assaulted the lives of numerous people that I care about -- incredible people, I might add -- and probably more that I don't even know about.

So I'm gonna share a bit in case it can maybe benefit someone else.

In March, Josh and I attended the Utah Coalition Against Pornography conference in Salt Lake.
Sounds like a SUPER FUN event, right?  Let's go downtown and spend the whole day talking about the evils of pornography.

Actually, it was REALLY great.    Now, if you missed the conference but are interested in learning what we learned, don't fret, UCAP has posted videos of many of the presentations online so you can watch them for yourself.  The speakers were awesome with fabulous insights. We learned a lot and it really opened our eyes even more to the dangers of pornography and the way it can ruin lives and families.

My favorite thing I learned at the UCAP conference came in the first presentation I heard where the speaker said, "Sex is not bad, and porn is not sex."  I love that.  Sex is not bad, and porn is not sex...because sex is about connection and engagement and relationship -- and porn is about bodies on a screen.  Porn is Satan's hollow, twisted substitute for something pure a beautiful.

Like almost every family, we've had experiences with pornography.  I'm not going to go into the details, but I had a 7-year-old son who first encountered porn by accidentally mistyping a web address on a school computer.  Also, just a couple weeks ago, despite all of our filtering software and parental controls, we had a pop-up ad that included some pornographic images come up on a cell phone when one of our kids was playing a game.  This nasty stuff is everywhere, and its something we need to be very aware of.

However, just because pornography is a prevalent evil does not mean we are powerless to fight it. We can protect our families and teach our children how to be safe from its insidious grasp.  One of the sessions we attended at the conference addressed exactly that topic and it was GREAT!

We learned that a lot of the things that we do as a family are in line with what experts suggest.  We also learned we have plenty of room to improve, and we were reminded there is no 100% safeguard out there.  However, some of the things we have done to protect our family from the onslaught of porn include:

*we use parental controls and filtering software -- our favorite is Open DNS (it's free) which we added directly to our router to protect anything connected to our wifi

*ALL of our family devices are password protected so that kids can't just get on the computer/internet any time they like (I'm gonna be honest, sometimes this is really inconvenient for the parents involved, but it's something we are willing to deal with)

*we do not provide our children with individual cell phones -- we have one kid cell phone that is shared between our children so if someone has to stay late or has an event they get to use the phone (this one is bordering on cruelty if you ask our kids)

*our kid's phone is OLD which means it CANNOT send or receive pictures which I LOVE (sexting is real, and can be a horrible entry into the world of porn)

*our poor, picked-on kids are required to turn in their devices every night at 9pm -- and if a device is NOT turned in they lose it for a period of time (see, I said, we're jerks)

*Outside of our family computer (which is always available for homework etc), we don't have constant internet access on any device -- we put in the wifi code on weekends, but not on school days (see...jerks!)

Anyway, those are some of the big ticket items.  Like I said, this is some of what we do, but it isn't a perfect solution (because nothing is and every family is different).  I'd love it if you'd share some of the things that have worked for your family.

The BIG most important piece, though, is that when you are taking hold of the issue and doing what you can to address it and protect the people you love, that is NOT nothing.  There is power in that, and those efforts count.

Also, if you are someone or if you love someone who has been ensnared by pornography, please know that you are not alone.  I'll fight with you.  I'll support you as you work to get free.  And I don't think less of you because you are battling a problem -- guess what, we all are even if they come in different forms.

Anyway,  a couple of my VERY FAVORITE resources

https://www.overcomingpornography.org/  This website has TONS of great information and helps for overcoming and avoiding pornography.  It is a religious site, but I love that it focuses on hope and God's love for us and His desire to help us.

On the same site, this video is my absolute favorite for families.  This is what we teach our kids to do when they are exposed to pornography (because we know it is not a question of "if" but of "when" they will see this garbage).

At the UCAP conference, I was introduced to the work of a man named Matt Fradd who is a huge fighter in the battle against porn.  I've since read several of his books and I really appreciate his personal insights and point of view.  I think his work is a great resource.  Apparently, he also has a podcast on this subject.  I haven't listened to it, but it could be a good support as well.

Anyway, that's enough.

The point is, pornography is evil.  It will do everything possible to sink its teeth into you and not let go.  Keep it away from your family, do all that you can to inform and protect your children.  And if it has grabbed onto people that you care about, don't judge and degrade them, support and encourage them instead.  This is not an easy battle and they need all the support they can get.  Celebrate the wins, and help them grow -- and I'll bet you money they'll do the same for you when you are struggling.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Sometimes I'm a dork who can't use a screwdriver

Once upon a time, it was a Friday morning and I happened upon this interesting post about making your home more break-in proof using only a couple of 3-inch screws.  The idea seemed simple enough -- change out the standard plate screws for longer ones and increase the anti-break-in-ness of your house.

Awesome!

So I decided to put this new idea to work.  I found a couple of long screws, took out the short babies that were already there, used my handy-dandy drill to pre-drill guide holes for the bigger screws, then swapped out the drill bit for a screwdriver head and attempted to install the new screws.

And this is what happened.


Now, you can't tell from the picture but those screws are 3 inches long and STUCK!

They won't go in and they won't come out.

And that means that I can't close the door.

Which sorta stinks.

And even after lots of coaxing and pleading and begging those babies are still hanging out of the door frame mocking me with their stony, "We're here and we like it and we're not moving" glare.  Fiends!  Someone I know is getting their trouble-causing, metal behind tossed in the trash later!

This is the part where you tell me how impressed you are that I am ALMOST handy.  

And then this is the part where I sigh and think how grateful I am for a husband who will laugh with me (or at me, I'm not really sure) and then make a plan to fix the trouble I've caused.

Guess I really screwed this one up (see what I did there).

Monday, April 24, 2017

Golden Anniversary


This weekend, my parents-in-law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary -- their golden wedding anniversary.

It seemed like an appropriate occasion for a little family shin-dig so Josh and his brothers got together and rented a building and catered a dinner and created a fabulous event.

The timing was pretty perfect because everyone was in town (even those who live in Texas) so it was the whole DeMoux crew all in one spot -- which can be raucous for sure but is also a TON of fun!

Our building at This is the Place Park.

We decorated the building (and I have to tiny brag here because my husband decorated the tables all on his own and I think he did an incredible job).  


We had a table that noted ALL of the Jim and Louise DeMoux progeny (as a side note, Louise is not her first name...but she doesn't like her first name so she goes by her middle name -- which may be a tiny bit genetic as her mother used to keep a running list of names uglier than her own because she hated her name too).  Six children, 15 grandchildren thus far -- it's a pretty good sized clutch of kin.



Upstairs in the building, we had an area for kids that let them do crafts and get all creative and stuff.  This also included a table with a huge canvas on which everyone put their handprint as a gift to the happy couple.



There was no fancy program or intricate presentation to celebrate fifty years of love and life, but that's the way they like things.  Simple, intimate, one-on-one.  There were hugs and laughs and stories and smiles and it was a really really beautiful evening.

Because of what these two started fifty years ago, our lives are eternally better, and we were all grateful to take a moment to look back and remember how thankful we are for these two humble, kind, sincere, uncomplicated people.  

And how we all hope to be very much like them.











A "precious" gift -- so cute!! 




Mom and Dad and their boys.



With all the grandkids.


True to life, kids are running like mad all around us -- and life goes on (or maybe that is what life is really all about after all).


Friday, April 21, 2017

Two girls, one disability, and something much more

Aubrey is 15.  She is interested in clothes, and musicals, and boys (oh my, is she ever interested in boys).

In most ways, she is just your typical teenager.  Except for maybe one thing.

Every Thursday for more than two years, this book-loving, fashion-forward, boy-crazy adolescent girl has scurried out of her dance class and rushed to spend the rest of the evening with her disabled cousin.

Becca is 10 years old and was born with Rett Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that has left her unable to talk, walk, or control her body.  She spends much of her time in a wheelchair and expresses herself through an augmentative communication program called CoughDrop using just her eyes (which pretty much rocks).

Every Thursday, Aubrey forgoes sporting events and sleepovers in favor of feeding tubes and medications. Instead of texting with her friends, she gives piano concerts to an audience of one.  And she smiles the whole time.

Because Aubrey and Becca have a secret.  Despite the difference in age and ability, these two girls are fabulous friends.
It didn’t start that way.  Sure, they loved each other from the get-go — they are cousins, after all.  But this arrangement started out as a way for Aubrey to learn how to take care of Becca so that when her parents needed a babysitter there would be someone available who understood all of Becca’s needs.

You see, they couldn’t leave Becca with just anyone.  They needed a caregiver who knew how to feed their daughter through her g-tube, how to help her clear the mucous that sometimes builds up in her throat,  how to move her safely from place to place, how to give her the medicines she needs, how to recognize her discomfort and pain, and how to treat her like a person, not a problem.

Enter my teenage daughter.

Aubrey quickly learned all the logistical requirements of caring for her cousin, but then something happened that went much deeper.  Aubrey and Becca connected.

Becca is comfortable with Aubrey.  She tells her things like her favorite color, what happened at school, or what she feels about life in general.  Communication with Becca isn’t fast, it takes time and great focus for her to compose her thoughts using her AAC device, but Aubrey has learned to be patient.

And Becca doesn’t hold back.  I watched from a distance one afternoon as Becca told Aubrey, “frustrated, you.”  
Aubrey probed deeper and eventually discovered Becca was frustrated with her because Aubrey had been out of town the week before so she hadn’t been able to come to see Becca that Thursday.  Guess I might be frustrated too.

Aubrey watches during the week for stories or songs that Becca might like that she can bring to share with her.  At gatherings, Aubrey makes sure Becca is positioned so that she can see and hear and be part of whatever is going on.  She tucks in close to whisper explanations or funny thoughts in Becca’s ear and she always looks for a way to involve Becca in whatever is going on.

Aubs and Becca dancing at a wedding reception.

But this kindness and caring is not a one-way street.  Becca’s love has changed Aubrey as well.  Becca has taught my daughter that everyone has something to say and that just because someone is different doesn’t mean they are less.  Becca listens intently to my daughter’s concerns.  She shares her feelings and ideas and pushes Aubrey to grow.  She has helped my daughter learn to see the needs of others and to look beyond herself (a difficult task for anyone — but especially for a teenager).

These two are friends — not in some “I feel sorry for you so I’ll give you some extra attention” sort of way.  They actually enjoy being together.

So, maybe Aubrey is really more typical than I’ve made her out to be.  Yes, she spends every Thursday night taking care of her disabled cousin, but really, she’s just hanging out with one of her best friends.

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Ring Around the Bathtub -- and other fun

Kids can be weird (which is actually part of their charm, I think).

Take for instance this game of ring around the bathtub which is played by walking around the tub at ever increasing speeds with the object of NOT falling into the tub.  If you fall in, you lose.  Then you do it again.

Fun for all ages!




Also fun is getting metal removed from your face.  This teen happily traded in his braces for their less obtrusive cousin (a pair of retainers) recently.  His younger sister still has wires glued on her teeth so she is a little on the jealous side.  Sigh.



Sometimes our small people get all ambitious and try to sell water (yes water) from our front porch.  Sadly, Mom had to put the kibosh on this one as it was Sunday.  I also tried to gently explain (for future reference) that most people probably will not be excessively interested in purchasing small cups of water AND that parental permission is required before any other sales take place.  They were not pleased.  Sometimes it's hard to be small.


And last, but not lease, my middle boy put his creative skills to good use while watching conference and built himself a temple out of Lego blocks (who knew we had that many white pieces).  I am actually pretty impressed with his work.  I love it when he gets all artistic.


Just another week in the life, and I wouldn't change it for anything.  


Thursday, March 16, 2017

Peeps

Bucket list item achieved.

We are now the proud owners of five chickens (hey, don't make fun of my bucket list).

That's right, last night Josh and the girls and I trundled ourselves over to the local IFA and brought home five little fuzz balls which will eventually grow up and (hopefully) provide us with eggs.



We have been working toward this for a couple of months (and I've wanted chickens for years).  We had to get a permit from the city (grrrrr), and put together their house, and plan for chicken management etc etc.



But HOORAY, the wait is over and chicken owners we have become!  (One of us is much more excited about this fact than the other.)

Everyone around here (except for Bryce who is too teenage boy to be impressed by feathered babies) is totally enamored with the new flock.  Even Josh was sucked in to their cuteness.



Each child (sans Bryce) named a chicken (maybe that's why he doesn't like them so much) so we have Daisy, Cookie, Rookie (I know, I know), Raptor, and Devora.  We have three supposedly very hardy breeds (as per internet research) and we'll see what happens.

Should be fun!

(Pop on over for scrambled eggs in six months or so.)

(Also trying to get the dog involved so he doesn't eat these guys later on.)

Friday, February 24, 2017

Accidental Conversation Killer

Aubrey has been working on a history project of late.  She had to make a tri-fold brochure all about a particular country (I wish I had thought to take a picture of it because it looked really great).

She turned the project in yesterday and was thrilled when she found out she earned every possible point for her work (actually, her super fun teacher originally announced to the whole class the Aubs had failed her first ever assignment which left the class temporarily worried because Aubrey put a lot of work into the flyer so if she failed they weren't sure they could pass either -- but, just kidding, she got full marks).

Anyway, the point is, while Josh and I were driving Aubrey and the other kids to musical theater last night, she was telling us all about her project which happened to focus on Ireland.  She mentioned her teacher had been enamored with the "interesting facts" section she'd added to the brochure so Josh asked what interesting facts she'd found and this is what happened.

Aubrey: Did you know that Ireland reports fewer UFO sightings than any other European country.
Josh: Well, that's pretty cool.
Me: Why?
Aubrey: Huh?
Me: Why do they report fewer sightings?
Josh: Aubs, just ignore her.
Aubrey: No, really, what do you mean, Mom.
Me: Well, I mean, do they see fewer UFOs or do they just not report the UFO sightings or do authorities ignore the reports or do they see so many UFOs that it is common place so they don't really pay much attention?  I hear there are is a lot of drinking in Ireland, maybe they are too drunk to report the sightings?
Aubrey: Mom, I don't know that.  It's just an interesting fact, it doesn't have to have a reason.
Me: That seems pretty silly.  Why notice a fact, but don't figure out what it really means?
Aubrey:  Whatever.  Also, people think that Ireland has lots more red-heads than anywhere else, but only 9% of the people in Ireland actually have red hair.
Josh:  Huh, that is an interesting fact.
Me: But what percentage of people other places are red-heads?
Aubrey: What do you mean?
Josh: Aubs, let it go, she does this, that's why I don't tell her jokes.
Me: Well, if most other places only have 2% or 5% red-headed population than Ireland's 9% would still make them seem like a much higher concentration of red-heads.  So if that's the case it makes sense that people think of Ireland as a place with more red-heads than other places.
Aubrey:  Gosh, Mom, the site didn't tell me that.  It's just an interesting fact.  Leave it alone.
Josh:  I think you should just give up now Aubrey.
And she did.  Poor Aubs.

FYI: Although Josh likes to tease me about it, I do not ruin jokes and interesting facts on purpose.  I just get curious about things and wonder what causes them or why they are the way they are.  But I'll admit, it can put a damper on a conversation.  Oops.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Roasting s'mores...and fingers

 On Monday we made s'mores in our backyard.

It was really fun.

Until I grabbed a roasting stick that had (unbeknownst to me) been recently sitting in the fire so I ended up with this.

Fingers.  Cooked.

(To be fair, this picture makes the burn look goopier than it is because there is some Vasaline on it)

I spent the bulk of Monday night with my uber-sore digits in cold water (because nothing else seemed to numb the pain).  The skin did not blister AT ALL which surprised me.  I've been the proud owner of several nasty burns in my life (including one really awful one on the tip of my nose thanks to marauding bacon grease) but I've never had a bad burn that didn't blister.

And this was a bad burn for sure.  I grabbed onto the metal tip of the roasting stick HARD before I learned that it was scalding.

Tuesday, when I woke up, the burn didn't hurt at all.  It didn't hurt because I couldn't feel it.  Not even a little bit.  The burns were a sickly white color (it wasn't puss, the skin was cooked white) and the area felt coarse and leathery.  I was a little concerned because I couldn't feel it, but I figured it would pretty much heal on its own.  

Josh was not so sure.  He tends to worry about these kind of things more than I do.  I am much more of a "watch it and see what happens" type where he is more "let's go in and have it checked."

We both did some reading on the internet (which generally brings on lots of worst case scenarios and often ends with a prognosis of death) and then Josh was convinced the I needed medical attention.  To be fair, Josh was mostly worried about an infection because I am quite prone to them (thanks rotten Crohn's disease!!).

So I gave in and went to the doctor.  After being poked and prodded the man in charge couldn't say for sure if this was a 2nd or 3rd degree burn (I'm going with 3rd because I want the street cred).  

He said lucky me that the nerves were damaged so I couldn't feel it, likely they will heal fine and I may or may not have a crazy scar.  I'm hoping for yes (scars -- tattoos with better stories, you know).  He patted my head, gave me a tetanus shot and a prescription for antibiotic ointment and sent me on my way.  

(Also, he sided with Josh and said it was good we came in...traitor.)

I still can't feel the burned area, but the burn has hardened into a near plastic-like rectangle on both fingers which is REALLY uncomfortable as I try to move and do normal things.  

But, that's what you get when you're hangin' around the fire with your homies and Lil D (for DeMoux, of course) puts the heat on you and leaves you hurtin' but you ain't gonna squeal no matter how much they burn you.  

Or something like that.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The marvels of not-so modern medicine

Today my house smells like garlic (no, that isn't me bragging, it is just a statement of fact).

I've been cooking garlic because someone around here has the beginnings of an ear infection.

And (spoiler alert) that someone is me.

If the truth be told, I get a LOT of infections.  A big part of that is the result of the meds I'm on to keep my Crohn's disease in check (nasty freeloader, always hanging around).  These drugs (I love them) keep my immune system suppressed which is good for controlling Crohn's but not so good for fighting off other illnesses.

And so I get a lot of infections, the bulk of them being ear infections, sinus infections, and I scoop up my fair share of strep throat (I really HATE that one).

I really despise having to head to the doctor for every little infection because they come up REALLY often and doctors are expensive, so since Crohn's and I became frenemies six years ago I've learned a few tricks to take care of some of these things.  While I still don't have a solid answer for managing sinus infections and strep, I DO have a good, reliable helper when it comes to fighting off ear infections.

Enter the garlic .
(Thinking out loud, maybe Crohn's Disease and vampires have a distant relation of some kind?)

Now, I am not a medical professional, so I'm not prescribing this treatment for anyone out there, but I have been grateful for this tried and true remedy (which humans have used for a long long time so I'm really just piggy-backing off the smarts of Neanderthals and such) so I'm going to share.  Garlic has helped me wipe out dozens of ear infections and I'm really glad of that.

Should you decide to give this simple trick, here's how I do it.

Add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil and a heaping spoon of garlic to a saute pan.  Over a medium heat stir the concoction CONSTANTLY.  The garlic will slowly get darker and darker while it cooks.




Keep going until the garlic becomes a nearly black, sticky mass (you can't miss it when you get there).  Then filter the tonic through something (like cheesecloth, or a handy dandy paper towel) to separate the garlic hunks from the liquid gold.


Finally, I suck the amber fluid into a syringe and use that to get the goop into my ear to fight the infection.  A few drips three or four times a day for a few days usually clears it up (for me, at least).  


I've done this for years and have conquered many many infections this way, but I make no guarantee that it will work for you.  However, it has been a lovely medieval bit of magic for me.  

Hopefully you do not have an affinity for picking up ear infections, but if you have the talent like I do (seriously, I. Am. Good.) maybe this will be a help.

Plus, you get to smell like garlic for days, and who doesn't love that.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tidying up the literature

Yesterday, I was reading a book that I wasn't sure whether I liked or not (actually, today I finished the book and I'm still not sure if I liked it or not).

It had one paragraph that I did not appreciate very much.  Since I own the book, I decided to edit out that paragraph so no one else would be faced with it.  Since it was just one paragraph about something someone saw I decided to cover up the words with address labels which happened to be just the right size.  The labels block out the words without bleeding through to the other side like a marker or pen would do.  It worked perfectly.

Josh commented on how I should jot down a phrase there to fill the space.  That seemed like a good idea, so I did (along the lines of his very astute suggestion).


There.  All better.

I like a clean book.
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