Saturday, November 28, 2009

Pikes Peak Flute Choir Christmas Concert

What: Pikes Peak Flute Choir Christmas Concert
When: Sunday, December 6 at 7:00 p.m.
Where: Broadmoor Community Church, 315 Lake Ave., Colorado Springs, CO 80906
Cost: FREE

I'll be the one playing the gold flute! See you there!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Morning, Afternoon, and Evening

Whoever came up with the name for Morning Sickness obviously had no idea what he was talking about!

We're happily expecting Baby #2 on June 25 (Nick's birthday!). I am 9 1/2 weeks along and counting down the minutes until the second trimester when I will hopefully feel like a human being again. Until then, unless you want to read blog posts about my take on So You Think You Can Dance or Glee, I don't expect to be doing much worth writing about. My goals for the next few weeks include getting plenty of rest, eating nutritiously, and keeping Baby #1 fed, bathed, and entertained. Notice that my list does not include a perfectly clean house, homemade Christmas gifts or decorations, or any extracurricular activities. Survival can be a lofty enough goal sometimes!

We are especially grateful for our growing family during this Thanksgiving season. Happy Thanksgiving to all of you!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Books on Columbine

On April 20, 1999, I was a Columbine sophomore traveling home from a weekend in Vail for the Future Business Leaders of America state competition. We didn't know that anything was wrong until we pulled into our neighborhood around lunchtime and noticed several helicopters hovering over our school. I will always be grateful that I was kept safe on that day and spared the trauma experienced by my friends and classmates. In the aftermath of the tragedy, I remember listening to the widely varying accounts of students and the media and thinking that no one would ever really know the truth of what occurred that day or why.

A decade later, two valiant attempts have been made to tell the entire story in book form, from the killers' childhoods through the controversial detective work of the Jeffco sheriff's office. I began with Columbine: A True Crime Story by local Rocky Mountain News reporter Jeff Kass. I have to admit, this version didn't live up to my expectations. He went off on unnecessary tangents on subjects such as the history of the Wild West and several generations of Eric and Dylan's family history. His approach seemed to be to present the reader with all of the information in one place, but without jumping to any conclusions -- the approach I preferred before starting the book. However, after ten years, I now think that it's time to draw some sort of conclusion to the most pressing question: why?

The second book, Columbine by online news magazine Salon reporter Dave Cullen, was exactly what I needed to read. Cullen not only presented all the facts, including many more stories of victims and a more detailed account of the actual attack, but also presented a thorough psychological analysis of Eric and Dylan from leading experts. His sections on teacher Dave Sanders and principal Frank DeAngelis were particularly touching. I would highly recommend this book to anyone left confused by conflicting media accounts and police cover-ups that have occurred over the years.

One other recommendation, not specifically about Columbine...We Need to Talk About Kevin, a 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver, was an enthralling read. The author presents the life story of a fictional high school shooter from the perspective of his mother. This story about raising a probable psychopath (a term generally recognized as describing Eric Harris) is a haunting page-turner.

We Need to Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

A quick disclaimer -- all of these books contain profanity and violence.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Making Yogurt in the Crockpot

I know this sounds a bit eccentric, but it is sooooooooooooo easy, guys! And totally worth it!

Check out this blog for detailed instructions, but here's how it works for me (so you can see how easy it really is):

5:00 Right about when I'm starting to make dinner, I pour 1/2 gallon of milk into the crockpot and turn it on low.
7:30 When I'm doing dishes after putting Baby to bed, I turn off the crockpot.
10:30 When I'm about to go to bed, I stir in 1/2 cup of yogurt (yep, plain regular yogurt) and cover the crock pot with a bath towel.
The next morning: I wake up to 2 quarts of delicious, creamy yogurt! Ladle it into some old yogurt containers and I'm all set.

See how easy that is? You don't need any special equipment or ingredients. I've been making yogurt for a couple months, and you don't even need to buy a new "starter" each time...just save 1/2 cup from your last batch. It will turn out a little bit more runny than store bought yogurt, but it's really not very different. I've read here that you can just add 1/2 cup of powdered milk at the beginning to thicken it up a bit. This blogger also recommended to add a spoonful of jam per bowl when you serve it for flavor.

It's nice knowing exactly what we're eating without worrying about too much sugar or artificial sweeteners. Baby loves this yogurt plain and I usually have it in a smoothie or with homemade granola (another easy treat!).

I'll let you do the math to see how much money you save with 5 minutes of hands-on effort: How does the price of 1/2 gallon of milk compare to two full quarts of yogurt? I felt like a criminal after discovering how amazingly easy this is and not sharing it with all of you, so now I can sleep again :).

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Love and Marching Band

Just some thoughts for you today.

Lately, on our afternoon walks, I've noticed the faint sound of a drumline practicing in the distance. This has lead to nostalgic memories of marching band, which, I'll admit, was 99.9% torture. From the 100 degree, 40-hour August Band Camp week to the frostbitten fingers on metal piccolo of late November, it was brutal.

Naturally, I subconsciously sought a mate who had gone through similar trials; another Band Kid. Little did I know while dating that Nick, a talented french horn player, was a marching band impostor. He attended approximately 10% of rehearsals. His uniform was...get this...a sweatshirt and jeans.

A sweatshirt. And jeans.

No starched white gauntlets, no tall feather plume. No oppressive uniforms individually tailored by loving band moms to fit an army of gangly teens. Sorry, honey, but we were in different leagues.

Which leads us to another dilemma. When a spit-valve-spewing brass marries a prissy-perfectionist-woodwind, to which instrument do we direct our posterity? The only neutral territories are piano, strings, and *shudder* percussion. We'll just have to see where her natural tendencies lie, because in the end she's going to grow up to be whatever she wants to long as she's in the band.