19 December 2008

The Dude Turns 5!

~






The Dude has gotten his fill of dinosaurs and digging for a while! I am glad the two things I thought would be most fun were popular! The kids really enjoyed digging up (and sometimes re-unearthing multiple times) the dinosaurs and dinosaur bones and they REALLY liked being told it was OK to play with their food (even if they didn't end up eating most of it - except for the dinosaur chicken nuggets, of course!) One picture that I wish I had gotten was the Dude's slice of cake after he was "done." He ate the ganache frosting and left the rest of the cake untouched! Thanks to Lady Steed for all the pictures!
~

30 November 2008

I Like My Children

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Sometimes I feel like when I'm talking about having kids with other people, that I am expected to complain about them (in general and specific). Although sometimes I need to unload about having a rough day, I really do just enjoy being with my Dude and Sita. They are wonderful!

Some things I love about them today:

The Dude:

...wants to understand things. He asked about what "on purpose" meant. He wanted to know why Mars was about war and Venus was about love.
...recognizes classical music. He can tell all of Holst's Planets apart (hence the discussion above).
...can determine which instruments are being played in a piece of music. "There are the double basses! And the trumpets! And the timpanis!"
...likes to write out math problems for himself. He wrote 3 math problems in his notebook: 9+1=10, 10+1=11, 10-1=9 AND when someone asked him what 5 plus -3 was, he knew it was 2.
...is a good big brother. He makes up games for he and the Sita to play and they have a great time together. He had them pretending to be slithery snakes on the polished gym floor.
...can be quiet for a long time. He let us take naps while he entertained himself with his Thomas storybook and a phonics workbook.
...is reasonable. When I explain why I can't do something at the moment, he accepts it and sometimes even offers to help me.
...is trustworthy. During choir practice, I don't have to worry about him because I know he'll stay out of trouble.
...wants to be good. When we were walking to church and he made the Sita fall because he was being a bit boyish, he accepted the responsibility and said he was sorry.


The Sita:

...loves wearing her dancing dresses, and then dancing (spinning around in circles until she's thoroughly dizzy).
...loves to sing! She sang the "Glooooooooria een exshellsees djeo" to Angels We Have Heard on High all day.
...isn't afraid to talk to people. Her favorite topics are "The Chicken Nugget Story" "The Nerds" "Cataloguing the Owies" and "Getting Treats for Going Poo in the Potty" (which she has yet to do).
...eats fruit. Having a pear for breakfast is just delightful. Having craisins for snack is grand.
...memorizes books and then "reads" them back to you. She's got Pinkalicious totally down (even the silly voices).
...tries new foods. She ate a couple bites of a new soup tonight without complaint.
...keeps track of who gives her what. Right now Auntie C is in her good books because she gave her a new dancing dress!
...is so charming! She has claimed the lap of her nursery leader for storytime - all the other children must crowd around.
...is excited about having a new sister. She tells everyone about her new baby sister and that someday after she gets baptized and married in the temple, she will have a baby in her tummy, too.
...can interpret my drawings. She got angel and baby Jesus and Jesus getting baptized correct (even though the Spozo said John looked like a scary octopus monster).

I love my kids. They are truly a great source of delight and laughter and love and I'm glad they're mine.
~

Not what I wanted

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With all that Thanksgiving action, I completely forgot that the Dude was supposed to give a talk in Primary today. If I had only remembered 10 minutes earlier, I could've written something out for him to read. But no - I didn't remember until they asked the child who was giving the prayer to come forward. Our only prep time was while the other little boy (or, more accurately, his mother) was reciting the scripture.

So we settled for the Dude reading his favorite verse of I Am a Child of God and talking a bit about it. It looked a lot like a traditional Primary talk - the parent whispers something to the child, they speak into the microphone, the parent whispers something more, the child whispers something back, the parent nods their head, and the child again speaks into the microphone. Our dialogue went a bit like this:

I'm going to read my favorite verse of I Am a Child of God.

I'm going to read my favorite verse in I Am a Child of God. I am a child of God, Rich blessings are in store. If I but learn to do His will, I'll live with Him once more.

Ok. What are some of your blessings? (pointing to rich blessings.)

Rich blessings. The world.

What else?

I don't know mommy.

How about living with Heavenly Father?


Living with Heavenly Father.

What are you doing to learn His will?

I'm learning to choose the right.

How about being kind?

Being kind. And nice. And sharing.

I am glad I am a child of God.

I am glad I am a child of God.

In the name...

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I didn't think about this until just now, but I never had to prompt him when to speak into the microphone - he knew when was a time to speak into the microphone and when not to. Counting our small blessings. A dear sister that was in Primary came up after church to compliment us on his talk. I looked at her a bit incredulously and laughed, explaining that we had completely winged the whole thing. She said she had guessed that, but that what was impressive was that we did that well just improvising. That made me feel a bit better about completely forgetting to prepare something, but I still think I'd like a re-do.
~

28 November 2008

Thanksgiving Lessons

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We learned several important things from having Thanksgiving at our house this year:

It is a LOT of work.
Having no counterspace means making several things at once is extremely difficult.
Mashed potatoes taste best when there is lots of butter, cream, and sour cream and they are whipped with beaters.
If you want the Sita to eat anything besides olives at Thanksgiving dinner, you should let her eat them more often.
Trader Joe's turkeys prepared the Martha Stewart way makes THE BEST turkey.
Tenting the turkey really does work!
The Dude will eat mashed potatoes, corn, turkey, and pumpkin pie with enthusiasm (but not much else).
Leftovers are ginormous when you're by yourselves.
Having a dinner party the night before is good because your house is already fairly clean.
Having a dinner party the night before is bad because you're already tired of slaving away in the kitchen.
Pumpkin pecan streusel pie is five times more scrumptious than traditional pumpkin pie.
It is a slight disadvantage to have Black Friday be the day after Thanksgiving when you have a gadget-obsessed husband.
It is a huge blessing to have a competent cook for a husband.
You will always, no matter what, forget to take a picture of the turkey no matter how beautiful it is!

We missed having Thanksgiving with family this year, but we're glad we have family to miss. We're also very glad we have friends to share it with!
~

21 November 2008

A Harmonious Day

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The highlight of my day today was having the Sita singing the Peter theme from Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf at random times - at Target, while playing, and in her bath. Not exactly note perfect, but she had the rhythms!

I even loved her more when she told me (very emphatically bordering on screamingly) that I was NOT allowed to sing along with her.

Another highlight was piano practice with the Dude. We had such fun doing forte and piano and high and low notes (and high and low voices - his low elephant voice is adorable). He very seriously explained to me that he can't make such low notes because his vocal chords are smaller than mine.

I am so proud that when he plays one of his little songs, it sounds like a song! (My current favorite is the Magic Tree House song). He's already better at looking at the music rather than the keys than I am and when he lifts his hand to move it on the keyboard, he does it so gracefully. We're still working on the graceful curving of the fingers.....
~

11 November 2008

Tagged! Crazy 8s

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(At least I think I was!) by the darling Sierra.

8 things I'm obsessed with right now:
1. Finding order
2. Thinking up Christmas gifts
3. Reading my friends' blogs
4. Planning the Dude's party
5. Justifying getting new things for another baby girl
6. Stopping the Sita's tantrums
7. Taking beautiful pictures
8. Deciding if kindergarten is the best thing for the Dude

8 words or phrases I use daily:
1. "Did you want to ASK me for something?"
2. "Sita que bonita!"
3. "Girlawog!"
4. "Screamacita"
5. "Dude-a-lude"
6. "What a nice big brother!"
7. "Are you listening to your body?"
8. "You're right!"

8 T.V. shows I love to watch:
1. We don't own a TV.
2. But we do get Netflix.
3. So I do watch some "TV."
4. Monk
5. Star Trek (in general)
6. Project Runway (when they're not swearing!)
7. And that's about
8. It.

8 Things I did yesterday:
1. Tried on Maternity clothes at Old Navy
2. Had lunch at IKEA
3. Put a bandaid on a profusely bleeding wound
4. Carried a sleeping Sita from the car to her bed
5. Laundered the "warm" colors and the "cool" colors
6. Read "Pigeon wants a Puppy" 3 times in a row
7. Went to Target and found pants (on sale!) for the now 4T Dude
8. Played the Scripture game in the November Friend for FHE

8 of my favorite places to eat:
1. Barney's
2. Cheeseboard Bakery
3. Bistro Jeanty in Yountville
4. Chez Souvan in Campbell
5. My Mom's house
6. Teacake Bakery
7. Macaroni Grill
8. In-and-Out Burger

8 Things I'm looking forward to:
1. Thanksgiving!
2. Concerts with the Spozo!
3. My birthday
4. Christmas!
5. Singing Psalm 91 in church
6. Teaching a lesson on Moroni
7. New baby girl!
8. The Spozo being off his nasty diet

8 Things on my wish list:
1. The Princess Bride (the book)
2. Enamel Dutch Oven
3. Camera carrier
4. Really cute pregnancy dress
5. Naptime everyday
6. Full-time maid
7. Quickish labor
8. Healthy baby

8 People I tag:
1. the Romgi
2. Roni
3. Lady Steed
4. Tristen
5. Cindy
6. FoxyJ
7. Ramblings
8. the Spozo (even though he swears he won't do it)
~

04 November 2008

Wise Words from a Wise Man

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(with bolding added for emphasis)

"We are forgetting God, whose commandments we have neglected and in some cases forgotten, and which we seem reluctant - or too undisciplined - to obey. In too many ways, we have substituted human sophistry for the wisdom of the Almighty.

"America is still strong, but destructive forces have been and are at work. There is a serious unsteadiness in our country's stance in terms of morality, ehtics, principles, and behavior. We as a people and a nation have increasingly neglected and abandoned time-honored virtues that have been proven through the centuries to keep human beings individually, and therefore collectively, strong.

"These problems are only symptomatic of many other problems we have as a people. During recent years, polls and circumstances have suggested that an unprecedented majority of Americans believe that the private lives of public official need not be considered as a factor in their eligibility for public office, and that private morality has no connection with public behavior and credibility. I am more deeply concerned about the growing moral deficit than I am about monetary deficit.

"For a good while, there has been going on in this nation a process that I have termed the secularization of America. The single most substantial factor in the degeneration of the values and morals of our society is that we as a nation are forsaking the Almighty, and I fear that He will begin to forsake us. We are shutting the door against the God whose sons and daughters we are."

"Marriage was once generally regarded as a sacred sacrament, but, for the populace as a whole, it is becoming an increasingly secular ceremony. ... We are losing something that speaks of accountability, not only to one another but to God who is our Father and who will stand in judgement upon us."

"If we are to continue to have the freedoms that evolved within the structure that was the inspiration of the Almighty to our Founding Fathers, we must return to the God who is their true Author. ... If we would individually and collectively resolve to stand for something, to lift our voices for truth and goodness and offer our supplications to our Eternal Father, those supplications would be heard, and the result would be remarkable.

"Does this compromise the separation of church and state? Of course not. Such a provision does not preclude a constant petition to the Almighty for wisdom and guidance as we walk through perilous times."

"There is something reassuring about standing for something, and knowing what we stand for. ... Those who are committed to, and have patterned their lives after, a Higher Power need not rely on public opinion, which is often blatantly skewed."

"Here is the answer to the conflicts that beset us. ... Here is the answer to tawdry politics that place selfish interests and pursuits about the common good."

"... Let us look inward and adjust our priorities and standards, recommitting ourselves to time-honored virtues that embrace right and shun wrong. ... Let us work tirelessly to defend and strengthen the family, which is the fundamental unit of society.

"Notwithstanding the trouble, notwithstanding the argument, notwithstanding the increasingly heavy hand of government, notwithstanding the spirit of arrogance we so often display, notwithstanding the growing tide of pornography and permissiveness, notwithstanding the corruption in public office and betrayal of sacred trust - I marvel at the miracle of America, the land which the God of Heaven long ago declared to be a choice land above all other lands, and at the people He has designated to inhabit this nation.

"This is a good land, a great land with a glorious past and a bright future - if we treat and cure the sickness spreading throughout our society."

All quotes taken from Gordon B. Hinckley's Introduction to Standing for Something: 10 neglected virtues that will heal our hearts and homes.
~

29 October 2008

Surprise!

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We went to Kaiser yesterday for our ultrasound of soon-to-be child number 3. They wanted to look at all these crazy things like stomach and brain and heart and umbilical cord to make sure everything was in working order. Since I was practice for a new technician, I didn't get to watch much of the procedure, but the Spozo got to and would make a comment every once in a while to let me feel included.

"It's got 2 sides to the brain!"
"It's bicycle kicking right now!"
"Seems to have all 10 fingers!"

I kept peppering the technicians with questions about what they were measuring and why. I don't remember much of anything except for this tidbit: Most umbilical cords have three blood vessels, but it is perfectly OK if they only have two. Ours had three. So there's really nothing interesting to report because everything was normal (Thank Heavens!).

Finally they get around to the reason I'm there: finding out the gender.

Now, I've been thinking of this baby as a boy and expecting it to be a boy. I'm so assured that it's a boy that the Spozo even thinks it is a boy (even though he'd like another girl to cuddle and protect). I get a chance to look at the screen and see my baby (which is always emotional for me to realize that there's this little independent person moving around inside me, and even though I feel some movement, there's a lot more going on than I can tell). They start searching around to find the key indicators of gender and I'm pretty sure I don't see any exterior plumbing. And then they find the 3 dots. Which means, yes, we're having another girl. One who likes to have one hand on her ear and the other hand across the body and tucked under her chin. One who is very stubborn about showing her spine to the ultrasound technicians.

So now here's our problem: We had a boy's name all picked out and settled. Now we are searching for a girl's name that seems to fit. Any suggestions?
~

27 October 2008

Why Prop 8 irks me

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Or, in other words, why Proposition 8 shouldn't be on our ballots.

The reason that Prop 8 is on my ballot next week is because a handful of judges decided that they knew what was better for the people of California than the people of California did. Only 8 years ago, the majority of California citizens voted to decide that marriage should be defined as between a man and a woman. But in March of this year, judges ruled that this definition was unconstitutional.

Deciding what marriage means in California should not be left to the hands of an elite few. This is a decision that the people of California as a whole should get to decide. And they will get to - now. But it happened in the opposite way that it should have. That's how democracy works - the people decide when things change (even if they're wrong). If just the elite few get to decide what is good for society, it is usually considered a dictatorship.

The judicial elite do not have an especially great track record of predicting the societal impact of implementing their top-down changes to the traditional fabric of society. But with the benefit of hindsight, we can plainly see how the availability (and subsequent acceptability) of abortion (as birth control) has helped create a highly sexualized culture in which pre-marital sex is expected and accepted. Looking back over the past 30 years since the advent of no-fault divorce the lasting and harm and damage to the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of many children of those divorces (and their future relationships) is apparent. This is not to say that NO good has come of these "societal innovations," but that the NET results on society have been decidedly negative.

No one can say how changing the traditional definition of marriage will impact our society, but it would be naive to say that there would be NO impact. You cannot change a definition so fundamental that no need of a "definition" was even necessary (until recently) without fundamental changes to society. Not immediately perhaps, but they will happen.

To consider a few: If the new definition of marriage is "a relationship in which people love each other and are committed to each other," why limit it to just 2 people? Some experts think it would be better for the children for the parents to stay married and just bring in other partners as they come along instead of getting divorced each time they find someone new. After all, many religions provide for polygamy in their doctrines, and it is mostly only in the Western nations that polygamy is not recognized as a legitimate form of marriage.

Why couldn't consenting adults (be they first cousins, brother and sister, father and daughter, or grandfather and grandson) be allowed the "right" of marriage?

Yes, some of those examples may seem extreme, but once you change the definition of marriage to accommodate the feelings of some, what basis do you have for not changing it further?
~

18 October 2008

Little Pitchers Have Big Ears

~
I never understood this line from the Little House series really meant (really, how many pitchers do you know that have ears, let alone big ones?), but I completely understand what they are trying convey.

The Sita really loves learning new songs. The surest way to get her to be quiet and settle down is to sing her a new song (or a song she hasn't memorized yet). Which would be why for her naptime everyday, first she picks two songs and then I pick a song she doesn't know so well before Quiet Time begins. This means that I'm quickly working my way through all the Primary songs I have memorized - she's got "A Child's Prayer" (the "Heavenly Father Song"!) and "Love is Spoken Here" ("Mommy Kneeling!") down pat. "Heavenly Father Loves Me" ("Rose Song!") and "I Love to See the Temple" ("Love the Temple!") are other favorites. "Teach Me to Walk in the Light" ("Walk in the Light!") is quickly being mastered.

I had to laugh the other day the Sita started singing along with the Dr. Laura theme song. Now, it's not like we listen every day and the Sita is usually napping during this time anyways, but the Sita proved she had heard it often enough. (Bolded are words the Sita actually sang)

I’m feelin’ good from my head to my shoes
Know where I’m goin’ and I know what to do
I tidied up my point of view
I got a new attitude

I’m in control, my worries are few
‘Cause I’ve got love like I never knew
Ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh
I got a new attitude

At least there's nothing too incriminating in those lyrics. We learned our lesson with our firstborn.

I remember when we had to start censoring our conversations when the Dude was around because he was articulate enough to show that he understood what we were talking about. Or at least that he could parrot what we were talking about. It greatly decreased our "adult talking time" - especially because it meant we couldn't talk on our drives to visit family unless we wanted everyone at our destination to know exactly what we were talking about (or at least enough to make them very curious).

Beware of those little pitchers!
~

27 September 2008

Parcheesi!

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We have been sadly lacking in games at our house, so in the past couple weeks we've been accumulating games. We now have Candy Land (the Sita's favorite), Go Fish and Parcheesi. Parcheesi took awhile to arrive, and when it did, the first thing the Dude did (after asking to see the board and pieces) was to read the rules. I was busy making sure the Sita didn't scatter the pieces to the wind before playing our first game and then cleaning up the wrappings and uploading our new Carnival of the Animals music, so I just asked him to make sure the rules got back in the box when he was done.

Now, you would think that I would be past being surprised at the Dude's comprehension, but I admit I wasn't expecting him to understand the rules. He did! When we played for the first time and the Sita rolled her doubles he got so excited for her that she got to go AGAIN because she had rolled doubles!

Watch out if he challenges you to a game of Memory. He beat me. Both times. And I wasn't trying to be nice.
~

07 September 2008

Traumatized for Life

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Until last week, the Sita had one deadly fear in her life: Buzzy Bees. She has never been stung. She has never had one land on her. She just fears anything that buzzes and flies. Which includes flies. This fear was not helped by a fly that got trapped in our car and then landed on her head.

Then. Last week we went to the scenic city of Monterey and while we were dining in the park, the seagulls decided that we had some pretty good food to eat. We were mostly tolerant of their begging and (unfortunately) gave them the random french fry that fell to the ground. Little did we know this was a major tactical error.

In a feat of great cunning, a seagull got close to us and then leapt up and grabbed a chicken nugget RIGHT OUT OF THE SITA'S HAND, then flapped away to enjoy its spoils leaving a devastated Sita behind. She cried unconsolably for five minutes and screamed whenever she saw another seagull for the rest of the evening.

Luckily, the Dude loves to chase birds and was very happy to chase away the offending birds until their birdy brains understood that coming near us meant having an energetic little boy run after them while laughing maniacally (and that there was no food). He was our little Knight and scared the monsters away. The Sita enjoyed the sport after awhile and started yelling, "Naughty Bird!" to all seagulls that ventured near.

This past week, she has been retelling the thrilling story of the theft of her chicken nugget to all who will listen. But she also has another phobia. If she sees any seagulls, she shrieks and needs to be comforted from the safety of parental arms. At least she's a discerning girl. She only accuses seagulls of being "naughty birds." The rest of our avian friends remain safe from her scorn.

I don't think we'll be watching The Birds anytime soon.
~

06 September 2008

Our Reading Material

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While I was preparing my lesson tonight, I had Jesus the Christ by Hugh Nibley out and the Dude popped in to see what I was up to. He read the title and then opened it to chapter 1. He then asked me, "Can we read Chapter 1 together?"
I said, "It's probably very long...."
He flips through the pages, "No, Mommy, it's only This Long."
He shows me that it's only 5 pages (of really dense text) long.
"Sweetie, it has a lot of really long and tricky words..."
(He usually hates too many long words all at once.)
"Mommy, that's ok. I really want to read it."
How do you fight that?
"Alright, Dude, let's read!"
And we did. Tricky words and all. Until bedtime.
(We didn't finish.)
~

30 August 2008

Long Car Trips Bring Surprises

You might remember last year on our long trip up to Portland, the Dude surprised us with what he could do.

Recently, on our way home from SoCal, the Dude states, "Daddy, you can tell how fast you're going by 10s because it goes 10, 20, 30, 40...."

The Spozo and I glance at each other in slightly amused surprise before I exclaim, "You're right! Where'd you learn that?"

"Oh, I read it in my Math Brain Quest!"

(Thanks to our friends for giving us those Brain Quests! They keep him occupied for hours!)

~

24 August 2008

Welcome, Trespasser!

Our walls snickered when they heard this today:

"I'm done with being sick. I'm ready to be glow-y and beatific."

~

18 July 2008

Reptilian predecessors to Mammals discovered!

Actual conversation between the Sita and I this evening:

"[The Dude] is a big boy. [The Sita] is a big boy!"

"No, [the Dude] is a big boy; [the Sita] is a big GIRL! Mommy is Girl! Daddy is a Boy! Nonna is a......."

"CROCODILE!"



(Don't worry, we cleared up this confusion quickly. After laughing about it.)

Memories

I'm stealing this from Mikaroni. It's not my birthday soon, so I can't use her incentive, but I still think it could be fun!

1. As a comment on this post, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn’t matter if you know me a little or a lot, anything you remember!
2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. It’s actually pretty funny to see the responses. If you leave a memory about me, I’ll assume you’re playing the game and I’ll come to your blog and leave one about you.

12 July 2008

Consumerism, Revealed

The Dude has a subscription to the Legos magazine. He loves getting something just for him in the mail, he loves looking at the cool things kids have done with Legos, and he loves reading the comics that come inside with every issue.

Today, he enthusiastically exclaims, "I like my Legos magazine because it shows me all the things I don't have!"

Yes, yes it does. And because he is so keyed in on getting new things and better things and the things that everyone else have already, I don't know why we even considered letting him get this magazine. Since really, he's uncovered the entire reason for this "free" collection of shiny colorful papers at the age of four and a half.

30 June 2008

Allotment

Whenever the Sita and I are reading a book and we come upon a group of similar objects, like say butterflies or flowers or jelly beans, she immediately starts divvying them up. "Dis one is for Mommy" (pointing to a red one), "Dis one is for the Dude" pointing to a green one, "Dis one is for Dada" pointing to a small blue one, and "Dis one is for [Sita]!" Pointing at the pink one. "AND dis one is for me, too!" pointing to the purple one.

Yep. Her favorite color is pink. I don't know how this tragedy happened. But at least purple is a close second!

28 June 2008

What I've Been Reading.....

I gave up on finding the lost library book and paid the fee, so now we are library regulars again! Mostly driven by a need for new reading material for the Dude (since we have neither money nor space for all the books he could read!) I know this is a rather eclectic mix: I'm trying to find appropriate books for the Dude for which I am very grateful for a new spate of books with lots of illustration (a la Roald Dahl). It's surprising how many books geared towards boys are rude and disgusting - lots of potty jokes and hating of nerds/school and general rudeness. I also picked up some random books in the New Books section that caught my eye.

Young Readers:

Babe the Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith

I'd seen and loved the movie, so when I saw it on the shelf, I dropped it into our basket (causing much spontaneous weeping and wailing from the Dude - still have no idea why). The book's story is simple and charming - the male sheepdog from the movie isn't even there (eliminating a lot of the movie's contention). I like most that the pig succeeds because he is polite and treats everyone (er...animal) with kindness AND that he sets his mind on a goal (being a sheep-pig) and reaches that goal spectacularly. It is next on the Dude's reading list.


Cal and the Amazing Anti-Gravity Machine by Richard Hamilton

With a title like that, how can you resist? Cal and Frankie (his talking dog) befriend a zany inventor neighbor on his latest experiment. Of course things don't quite go as planned, but Cal enjoys the ride! I like that Cal is curious (which gets him into a bit of trouble) and isn't afraid to try new things. The Dude and I are currently reading this book - even though the first page scared him a bit because it has the word "cacophonous" in slightly-more-difficult-to-read font. He's liking it so far!


Surprises According to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney

I chose this book because I had heard of the Humphrey series and wanted to try it out. It won't work for us because it has too much of classroom/school politics and scheduling for the Dude to really understand (the same problem we had with Frindle, only much more so). The idea of a classroom hamster taking care of his friends in his class (and the teacher!) is fun - a nice "how-to-get-along" book, but I didn't feel it had a real quirky spark which I like when reading.


The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke

This is an earlier book by the author of Inkheart and Inkspell (which I really liked). This was purely a for-me read, since the plot and the fact that there are no in-story pictures made it unlikely that I could convince the Dude to read it. I liked the story, but not as much as I liked Inkheart. Plus, I couldn't help but imagine that horrible merry-go-round in the movie Something Wicked This Way Comes which terrified me! I felt that the children's behaviors and dialogue were believable and I adore Victor, the bumbling private detective; Scipio, the arrogant Thief Lord; Prosper and Hornet and Bo. And it has a happy ending. Mostly.


For Adults:

Fiction
(all grabbed from the New Books Section)

The Sound of Butterflies by Rachael King

I admit, I had butterflies on the brain, so I saw this on the shelf and picked it up. That it was set mostly in Brazil was an added bonus! It's a kind of historical fiction, I suppose - set in the early 1900s - and showcasing the excesses of the rubber-making bosses in Brazil. Set up as a mystery - Thomas returns to England from his expedition to Brazil a mute shell of a man with no apparent reason. He had gone to Brazil as part of an expedition looking for new species in the Brazilian jungle - he especially wanted to find a rumored butterfly so that he could name it for his beautiful wife, Sophia. Nasty things happen to the nicest people and even Thomas gets corrupted. BUT he picks himself up when he returns home (with the help of his wife) and faces his fears. A good book - I stayed up super later than late to read it, but not one I will need to reread.


Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy

I really liked the characterization in this book! Sarah is completely believable as a bereaved widow trying to pick up her life after her husband dies. I like her rebellious granddaughter and her struggles with her grown daughter. The people are so human in their interactions. For the first bit. Then the "let's all live together in peace and harmony" hippy-ness really gets to me. And the "oh, let the new generation do whatever feels good and makes them happy." Too obviously preachy. Otherwise, a well written book.


The Other Mother by Gwendolen Gross

Told from the conflicting perspectives of two neighboring mothers that start out friendly, edge into uneasy truce, and then break out in hostilities ending with 9/11 and uneasy truce again, this is a book about mothers. That was why I picked it up. But the one that was staying at home ended up unhappy and the other was unhappy being a working mother. The "perfect" mothers were the despised target. So, a good book, but not what I'm looking for. I know mothering can be hard, but I feel that aspect is overemphasized in media already, so I don't need to be adding more of it to my life.


Non-Fiction:

Boys Adrift: The Five Factors Driving the Growing Epidemic of Unmotivated Boys and Underachieving Young Men by Leonard Sax, M.D., Ph.D.

If you have a boy, I strongly suggest reading this! I am determined to read Dr. Sax's other book Why Gender Matters as soon as possible. Because I've read this book, I am now paranoid of using plastic bottles (so, if we have another baby boy, it's glass all the way!), wary of public schools (well, the next book probably convinced me more), more open to the idea of an all-boys school and determined to strictly limit the type of video games and time played. Dr. Sax points to the changes in school, video games, medications for ADHD, endocrine disruptors, and (tongue in cheek) "the revenge of the forsaken gods" as factors in why boys are losing interest in Growing Up and becoming Productive Members of Society. What I liked most upon reading this was realizing that the Dude is just a normal boy in his NEED TO COMPETE and that (most) boys are just inherently different than (most) girls (which by no means suggests that one in more or less than the other - just that they're (shockingly!) different!). It also gave me pause about sending the Dude to Kindergarten early.


Losing Our Minds: Gifted Children Left Behind by Deborah L. Ruf, Ph.D.

Dr. Ruf's main thesis is that there are many more gifted children than schools are really set up for and that because of this teaching to the lowest common denominator that a lot of gifted children end up hating school and failing to realize their potential. She also pokes holes through the commonly held thought that gifted children should be kept with their age group so that they can be "socially well-balanced." She divides giftedness into 5 different levels and has examples of children in each of the levels and (more importantly for me) suggestions of how to get the appropriate schooling for each of the different levels. It was also nice to know that other parents of gifted children have had similar problems and frustrations in getting people to believe in their children's abilities. A most informative read, although her focus on math/science giftedness was a little frustrating for me at times. Since a lot of the kids I know would fall into her "giftedness" scale somewhere, I would suggest reading this one, too!

22 June 2008

The Ogre!

Today I had the rare chance to be in the car with only the Sita. Most of the time the Dude monopolizes conversation simply because of his need to know and read and comment on everything we drive by. One the way home from church today, the I asked the Sita how she had liked nursery and who was there. She listed a couple of her friends and then said, "The Ogre!"


(Aside)

The Ogre is from a Charlie and Lola (which you should look into if you're looking for a great kids show on positive sibling relationships (or how to deal with them when they're not) and using your imagination) episode that actually terrified the Sita because for most of the episode all you hear about is The Ogre being mean and scary. It turns out all the Ogre wants is for everyone to be quiet while someone sings him a song so he can get to sleep! Now whenever the Sita talks about the Ogre she usually says, "Ogre nice. Sad Ogre. Wants to take nap. Wants a song."

(Back to the car ride home)

I asked her about the Ogre and she said she was going to sing to him so he could get to sleep. I said that would be very nice of her. Then she stated that the Ogre needed lunch before his nap. I asked what the Ogre wanted. "The Ogre wants Macaroni and Cheese." I suggested that she and the Ogre share some macaroni and cheese for lunch and she squealed, "[Sita] and Ogre eat Macaroni and Cheese for lunch!"

As I braced myself for the addition of an imaginary friend to the table, I realized that I don't often get to just talk with the Sita because she is so often overshadowed (or overridden!) by the Dude! And she is such a delight to talk with! I simply must schedule more delightful time into my day.

18 June 2008

Gregoire!




A friend and I celebrated her birthday by going to Gregoire (Cedar just east of Shattuck in Berkeley). It was soooooo delicious! I can recommend the potato puffs, but you probably only need one serving for two people.

15 June 2008

The Sita Bonita Turns 2!






The Sita was most pleased at (finally) having her Pink! Butterfly! Cake!

Thanks to the Spozo and Lady Steed for all their help in making it happen! Thanks to friends that came and celebrated with us!

If you want to see pictures with faces (of which Lady Steed did an excellent job of supplying!), leave a comment or email me!

A Testimony Svithe

One of the reasons I most love being a Primary teacher is because I get the chance to testify about some gospel principle every Sunday to a bunch of young women. Sharing your testimony is Super Spiritual Power! You get re-confirmation as you share your testimony and everyone listening can feel the Spirit and get confirmation for themselves that what you're saying is True.

So much about living the Gospel is only what you can do for yourself (or adding oil to your own lamp)- you can't transfer your scripture reading to someone else or your prayers or your church attendance to someone else. You can encourage and suggest without too much success, but sharing your testimony is Powerful because you can invite the Spirit there and both of you can share that Spirit and feeling that Spirit can change hearts and minds.

Or, as Alma said, "...the preaching of the word had a great tendency to lead the people to do that which was just - yea, it had had more powerful effect upon the minds of the people than the sword, or anything else, which had happened unto them..." (Alma 31:5)

I have noticed that I can be talking about the story of the scripture lesson of the week and keep the children entertained, but when I really get their attention is when I am testifying. Or reading a scripture like it is my testimony. Sometimes the challenge is simply getting to the testifying part of the lesson!

For me, testifying is also an act of faith in itself. Sharing something so personal to me and so special is hard because there's always that chance of complete rejection. Since my testimony is such a part of me, rejecting my testimony is like rejecting me. So I don't share it much - which is why I like the weekly reinforced stretching of my comfort zone (which is always good for the soul).

08 June 2008

Did I forget to Mention?

Yes! I have my new Nikon D80! It is wonderful! It is amazing! I love it! I am growing new muscles in my arms for carrying it and hefting it and focusing it. When I'm using manual, which isn't often. Yet. It is amazing the quality of photos I get from it. Amazing. Crazy depth of field. Vivid colors. Beautiful even in lower-light situations. And the flash doesn't look so flash-y.



Ahhh. I am sated.





Although I do need a new camera bag. Accessorize! Any suggestions on where to get a cool camera bag?

06 June 2008

My first post from the iPod touch

.....and maybe my last? Although this is really super cool! What's even better is that it was for free! (Well, that's what the Spozo tells me, at least! :)

Delicious

I just finished one of my favorite breakfasts:

Sliced strawberries with strawberry yogurt (baby yogurt! full fat but small serving) and granola sprinkled on top.

Yum.

30 May 2008

An almost-two-year-old's prayer

Hen'ly Fa-dah, tinku a-day. Tinku a Biiig Mess! Jesus Kai, AAAAAAAAAmen!

Or, interpreted:

"Heavenly Father, Thank You For Today. Thank You for The Big mess! Jesus Christ. Amen."

(She's at the stage where she thanks for things that she sees - although she did thank for Grandma's House and Nonna's house the other day!)

28 May 2008

Oh, the Idiocy of Bureaucracy!

So. I am about to pull out my hair and then cram it down the District Person's neck. Or would if I didn't think my hair deserves a much better fate than that.

AGAIN I am forced to drastic measures to get Mr. C to talk to me. I had called about setting up an appointment for this assessment that the Dude was supposed to get and was promptly ignored. The next time I call, I suggest that I just contact the principal and set up a time with her and SHE can commune with Mr. C about all the vagueries of red tape that they want to put up around me. AhHa. Mr. C wants to talk with me immediately.

He gives me the same old line: "thelawisthelawisthelaw" and throws in for some sympathy about not having enough space for the children who actually are supposed to be in Kindergarten according to the law. He relates little testimonials about children that are put up a grade too soon and then their parents have them held back. He listens to me explain again why the Dude is quite ready for kindergarten. He explains that they just don't do assessment tests anymore - that was ten years ago when kindergarten was all about playing. (Which doesn't make sense to me - wouldn't it make more sense NOW to do assessment tests if it's all about the academics?)

His suggestion? Put him in private school for kindergarten and then back to public for first grade with no questions about his age. I explain that as we are a student family, spare cash is not really on hand, besides the fact that all the private kindergartens have been filled and won't have space until 2020, which will be a little late for kindergarten.

Synopsis: No assessment test. Probably no kindergarten for the Dude. I need to write a letter to write down for him everything I've already said (which I'm sure won't get "lost" like my phone calls have been answered).

The Spozo pointed out I've been very conflicted over this whole deal - that if I really wanted this to happen, I would be beating down every door to be making it happen. I confess, I don't really think that this particular kindergarten would have been ideal for him. I'm hoping to find one that will be.

Rejoice with me!

Tonight for dinner, we spooned the refried beans on the Dude's plate and gave the usual shpeel about them being super-duper-excellent healthy food for him (which he has much reason to suspect since for the first 3 and 1/2 years of his life we trained him to avoid ANY contact with them at all!) without much hope that they would actually be consumed. But I guess that "put it in front of them 12 [million] times, and they'll eat it" advice has some truth to it because he ate them and kept eating them without our bobble-headed encouragement for every bite!

He has only one condition: he will only eat them with tortillas. And cheese. With sour cream, too is most preferable. I'm sure this negates a lot of that healthfulness, but I figure the Dude needs fattening.

20 May 2008

Yegos

I had hidden the Legos well on a high shelf in the usually closed closet that the children are not allowed in for mostly safety reasons (mainly that something might come crashing down on their head or toe or other exposed body part). But the Dude (after not remembering them for a long time) finally remembered them. And asked about them and kept asking about them untilitdrovemealmostcrazy asking about them.

I had forgotten how creative he gets with his Legoing. His new request upon embarking on an art project (and for him, Legos are an ART), is that I do one for him and he does one for me. Today we started with seussian stairways that combined to create spaceships (or something that blasted around the room) and then ended very prosaically with a little red house.

The Dude is so happy free-forming and so stressed out when he's trying to make it Perfect Just Like the Picture, Mommy. Although the little house is charming and his attention to detail is alarming, I find his own creations to be much more interesting and fascinating. Especially since he's starting to come up with stories and reasons for all the kinks here and colors there and tall towers por aquĆ­.

I'll try to remember all those happy creative juices spouting everywhere when I step on the Legos tomorrow. In my bare feet.

17 May 2008

Mistaken Identity

The Sita, Dude and I were looking back through pictures of when they were teeny tiny babies (because that is what the Sita loves MOSTest right now). We played "name that family member" and they did pretty good at distinguishing between grandparents and aunts and uncles- until we got to the Dude's baby pictures! Then they both started consistently labeling the pictures of their Daddy as "Unca Maak!" That brotherly resemblance is much stronger when the Spozo is beardless.

10 May 2008

I'm so spoiled

I had an awesome Mother's Day.

The Spozo let me sleep in AND he made me breakfast (fruit salad, hashbrowns, and orange juice!). At church, the Dude very charmingly got up in front of everyone and didn't hurt himself by launching himself off the stand (but didn't do much singing), the Stripling Warriors were only mentioned once (the same amount The Incredibles were mentioned) AND we get an all-women extravaganza where I get to hear wonderfully inspiring experiences from wonderful, inspiring women AND they feed us a lunch (with cupcakes! mmmm!) while I get to talk to even more women!

The Spozo got me a wonderful magazine subscription that I am super excited about because it focuses "on the daily interactions taking place at home. Although these exchanges are often seen as mundane or inconsequential, the sum of our daily exchanges is what shapes a family, for better or worse." AND it has no ads AND it is just gloriously beautiful looking. The Sita got me Emma (and helped me open the pretty sparkly paper); the Dude got me a short story collection of Orson Scott Card's. AND (this is a big and) the Spozo ordered me a Nikon D80 and a 50mm lens! (I think this also part anniversary present and half-birthday present and general because-you-deserve-it-and-i-love-you present).

I do the snuggle and sing routine with the Rosita for her nap, and then I get to have a serious conversation with the Dude which is always enjoyable and entertaining to hear his views on the world as he knows it.

I ask you, can it get any better?

Well, it did. The day ended with a scrumptious lemon pound cake with strawberries and whipped cream on top (courtesy The Spozo).

What a wonderful day!

06 May 2008

The Wedding by Nicholas Sparks


I mainly picked this book up because I was desperate to read anything, and I had heard that his other book, The Notebook, was really sweet and a successful movie.

I'll admit, I enjoyed reading it, but I can't help wondering if a man would ever read this and enjoy reading it because the story is so girly romantic even though the main character is a man and it's written by a man. Did Mr. Sparks write this hoping to inspire men to stop it with the working all the time and to pay attention to their families? (The whole book was centered around that cliched axiom "no one ever wishes he spent more time at the office") Or at least that they should never, ever forget their 29th wedding anniversary because it might be the death knell for their marriage? Or was it for women to feel understood and wish that their husbands would read it and get a hint?

Some parts resonated with me, and yes, I too wished for some of that romance. But once it was over, I felt no need to reconnect with the characters. Re-reading it would be boring, and my criteria for a great book is that I can reread it over and over and over again and still love it.

If anyone wants it for an evening fling, it's yours!

05 May 2008

1 out of 2 ain't bad

We went to Utah for 2 reasons: to see my Dad and s-i-l run in the SLC marathon AND to see my little brother graduate.

You'd think that after waiting for 3 hours at one checkpoint, I'd have seen Dad go by. But I didn't. Whether this was because I was looking for a guy in a tan shirt and black hat (when he was really wearing a red shirt and red hat), or because I had two small children that were fried by the time he might have passed, or because it was right when I realized that the Sita had erased all the pictures I had taken during the vacation so far from the camera, or perhaps a combination of all three, is not certain. What is very certain is that I did not see him go by. And the brother (cheering on his fit and fabulous wife) did not see him at the finish line, either.

I began pestering race officials about how I would find out if my father had collapsed onto the sidelines or twisted an ankle or had a heart attack, but they couldn't help me. Finally, the brother found an official that could help him and discovered that Dad had finished the race.

Forty-five minutes earlier.

We all congregate at the finish line and spread out in a search pattern to find the missing man. We call all the people we think he might've tried calling, but no one is home. When we find someone home, we only know that he called, but didn't leave any message about where he was or where he would be. I get an irate phone call from my aunt asking me where in the heck I was and why I hadn't picked up my father. I rejoice that she has told him to stay where he was to wait for someone to pick him up -

TWO MILES from the finish line!

We find him (only blocks from where I had been waiting for him to pass for 3 hours!). He stops feeling like no one loves him when he realizes that we've been worrying about him and where he is for 4 hours. We all agree to laugh about it after we loudly and forcefully explain what had been happening to each other.

The graduation was a much easier affair. Cell phones are a most wondrous invention for coordinating with family at large events with many people to get lost between. We listen to a boring graduation speech. We see the brother and hear his name called in the first 10 minutes of the procession. We wait for the next hour and a half for everyone else to walk and shake and shake and smile and get flashed and walk and sit. We smile and take our own pictures then proceed to enjoy some sensuous sandwiches before heading home to collapse in bed.

Well, that's what I should've done. Instead, I went on a date with the SM to get a milkshake and diapers (so romantic!), and proceeded to come down with strep throat the next day. I can't say I recommend doing this to finish up a vacation, but at least I got lots of sympathy (even if I couldn't hold my darling nephew for the first time!)

14 April 2008

A step forward

To recap the saga: I've been trying to see if the school district will let the Dude start kindergarten this fall even though his birthday is after the state-mandated cut-off date. I've called several times and gotten reassurances of responses, but haven't heard back from anyone.... since January.

So after trying AGAIN, and making it very clear that I had called several times before and had not gotten any response, I finally got a call back from the district today! Actually, two calls! First from the secretary this morning to see what exactly I wanted to talk about with Mr. C (during which I relate Again all my reasonings) and basically stating that I was leaning towards homeschooling since I was getting so little support from the school. Voila! Mr. C calls back (when I'm out of the house, darn it!) and leaves a message saying that they'd like to set up an evaluation of the Dude by a kindergarten teacher at the school he would be going to even though the law clearly states that the Dude is past the deadline.

This doesn't mean that the Dude will be kindergartening this fall. He still has to "pass" this "evaluation" (ha,ha), and they still need to convince me that what they can offer the Dude will be worth his while. I'm still leaning towards homeschooling right now, but I'm glad that it looks like that won't be the only option open for us.

31 March 2008

Sucked into Sudoku!

Last summer, while camping with all the family, my sister-in-laws introduced me to the wonderful world of Sudoku! They took mercy on me and let me borrow their Sudoku books to do a random puzzle poorly (they are so cool, they were doing them in pen!). I didn't have too much leisure time since I was a single parent that week (and yes, there were lots of people willing to help, but the Sita would scream if anyone other than her Grandpa or I would touch her) and sudoku isn't that easy to do by campfire. Or, more accurately, I'd rather be eating s'mores or those wicked croissant with melted chocolate and marshmallow confections (trust me, they're fifty times better than s'mores).

I got home and quickly got my own Sudoku book, but got rather frustrated with how slow I was at getting them done. While unearthing my bedroom floor, I found it again, and since Sudoku-ing is much more interesting than excavating, I've been trying to achieve Sudoku greatness!

I now share with you my Sudoku lore:

1)Starting with the number 1, fill in as many numbers as you can deduced from the given numbers - if you narrow it down to 2 squares within the smaller square of 9 squares, write the number in the top left corner of both squares.

2)Once you've gone thru the number 9 over the whole puzzle, then start focusing on the small groups of nine squares and fill in what you can.

3)After you've done all nine squares of nine, starting at the top row of 9, try to fill the numbers in by starting at one and going up to nine. Go down all the rows. If you can fill in a number, check to see if that can change anything else and then go back to the next number in that row. If you can narrow it down to 2 square in that row, write the number in the lower right hand corner of the squares.

4)After you've finished the rows, start on the columns. Again, if you narrow a number's potential position down to two sqaures, write the number in the lower left hand corner of the square.

5)If you've been writing the numbers in the corner after you've narrowed it down to 2 squares, you'll find that you hit a point where all you have to do is hop from square to square to finish the puzzle quickly! Plus, with all the corner writing, you won't get so frustrated about not being able to write a number in for a long time!

You are henceforth Sudoku masters! Go forth and enumerate!

28 March 2008

"With a Hearing Accent"

Last night, I went to a discussion headed by Susan Schaller, who champions the languageless, and author of our book group's book this month,A Man Without Words.

I would never have guessed that a good number of people - even in the United States! - grow up without symbolic language to express themselves! Most of them are deaf children born to hearing parents, and some parents are guided by doctors and therapists to deprive their children of visual communication. I'm assuming this is to encourage (or force) their hearing senses to develop, but it seems so... contrary to what babies are about!Babies seem pre-programmed to like smiles - they recognize facial expressions very early and even know what faces to make when something is sweet or bitter before they can even see all that well! To repeat something from last night: Isn't it ironic that we encourage hearing children to learn "baby sign" so that they can communicate before they can talk, but that parents of deaf children are told to never sign to their babies? That seems like such a no-brainer!

Another interesting thing we talked about is how children seem to have a natural expressiveness that they grow out of around the age of six or seven and become more reserved with displaying emotions. I think a lot of this is because we learn to fear what other people think about us, so we show less and less. I didn't realize that part of Deaf communication is what we "hearing folk" would consider overly-expressive. Every emotion is expressed much more visually than we would do. Just knowing that helps me understand some of my experiences with the Deaf community a lot better. Our more stoic faces are part of the "hearing accent" we have - even when communicating with good sign language. One girl who had taken several semesters of ASL said that she was told that when she got more fluent in sign, she wouldn't even look at the hand signs, she would look at the face of the person signing - and she did!

I'm glad that smiles are still universal for happiness! I can always communicate at least that much! (At least, I hope so - are there any cultures that don't like smiles?)

24 March 2008

Easter in Progress

I'm still getting used to the idea that I'm the adult making sure holidays are holidays-y. My parents still did a gianormous Easter egg hunt for my brothers and their wives and kids at their house. Congratulations to the Romgi for winning the hunt with over 40 eggs!

I had a lot of good ideas for making Easter Easter-y, but only followed through on a couple of them. Here's the most shocking of them: We did not dye eggs. We did not even boil eggs. We did not do our own egg hunt (but the one we went to was lots of fun). We did not have Easter baskets filled with toys and jellybeans and chocolate and bunnies and chocolate. Some of this is because I didn't get around to it. Some of it was by choice.

We had backpacks filled with plastic eggs with yummy chocolate and jelly-ish things. And a chocolate bunny. I can't do without the chocolate bunnies! I chose backpacks instead of baskets because: The Sita has been wanting a backpack for a long time and I found her the perfect one, and I wanted to give it to her now. (and) I wanted something that would be useful for a bit longer than one weekend.

We did have a dinner with foods Jesus might've eaten on a special occasion. I went for simple because I knew Easter was going to be exhausting for the first half of the day and didn't want the Spozo to mop me off the floor at the end of the day. We had lamb (oh deliciousness!), lentils, flatbread, cucumbers, apricots (dried), yogurt cheese, feta cheese (which the kids LOVE), olives, and almonds. I think the entire feast was a la Trader Joe's. The Sita decided that the way to eat was to take one bite of everything, chew it for a few seconds, and then spit it back out. Except the cheese. And the flatbread.

We also watched the Lamb of God, which I was kind of hesitant to do because those last few hours of Christ's life were so violent. One thing I didn't forsee was the Dude's laughing reflex for whenever anyone speaks in a different language (which really isn't appropriate when there is hitting and spitting going on). By the end (and with continuous commentary), the Dude got something out of it and the Sita was still upset that we hadn't watched the Baby Jesus movie.

I think I'm going to declare Easter a success because we emphasized the most important aspects of the holiday: Jesus and Chocolate (in that order).

20 March 2008

My favorite time of day

My favorite time of day is the mornings. My favorite time of morning is right after waking up but before actually getting up - snuggle time!

The best mornings go something like this:

The alarm goes off at 6:30, I turn it off and nestle my head on the Spozo's shoulder until he escapes to the shower. The Dude exits his room soon after the water is turned on and hops onto my bed. He snuggles with me and then tells me about how he slept and reports on whether the Cita is still asleep. We talk about what type of day it is and what we are going to do and his many virtues and maybe discuss a serious question or two. The Spozo appears wreathed in steam and the Dude starts chatting about when Daddy will play with him. The Cita wakes up about now and the Spozo brings her to me for more snuggling while we wait for the BaBa to be warmed. The Dude has breakfast with his Daddy while the Cita drinks her milk and I admire what a darling girl I have and ask her questions about what she'd like to do which she responds to by widening her eyes and nodding while sucking. Spozo dashes out the door to catch his bus and the Dude returns to the bed for even more snuggling and laughing and hiding and tickling.

I know I should probably be getting more done in that first while in the morning, and sometimes I feel a teensy little tiny bit guilty for being so languorous. This morning, which was one of those deemed most excellent, I was just grateful to be able to simply enjoy Being with my children...

And that the Cita hadn't soaked through her pajamas and bedclothes last night.

11 March 2008

"Yucky Poo!"

is the Sita's favorite descriptive phrase right now.

Lovely.

04 March 2008

A place of love and beauty


I love going to the temple.

I always feel so refreshed and renewed afterwards. I feel like I've been seeing through a glass darkly and then I get complete vision back with added illumination. And then my lenses get blurred with all those worldly cares and woes and I'm feeling blundering and hesitant about where to go and then Whoosh! I go back to the temple and all that lovely perspective is restored.

I love going to the temple.

03 March 2008

Mr. Generosity


The 'Sita Bonita is recalcitrant about getting her nails trimmed, so in the spirit of bribery, she gets Jelly Bellies (jei-BEAN) after the ordeal if she has stayed (mostly) still. Yesterday, as she hopped down to go get her treat, the Dude handed her one of his Jelly Bellies that he had gotten as his potty treats earlier to her and said, "Here, ['Sita], here's a treat for you!"

Then today, the Dude shared his party loot with her! Of his own free will! After already having shared his Smarties with her, I expected him to say, "Oh, there's only one chocolate left - it's MINE!" But he hesitated, and when I suggested that I cut it in half, his face lit up as he exclaimed, "Yes!" and he and the Sita pealed laughter while I chopped and distributed the spoils (I slipped him the bigger half - he deserved it!).

I am so glad he has learned so young the joys of sharing - well, unless it's that unicorn finger puppet during Sacrament Meeting.....

01 March 2008

Ok, so honestly, now...

I'd like to know what you mothers do with your kids to help the time pass away. After the house is (relatively) clean and it isn't that pretty out and you don't have any spare cash.

I am probably a very boring mommy because I figure it's time to teach them something! Letters, colors, numbers, songs... I guess I'd have to admit I don't just play with my kids because... well.... it's boring. I can only pretend to drink fruit soup so many times. My attention span for going around and around and around a train track is extremely limited. After the fifth rereading of the same book in a row, I'm done.

What do you do to keep their abundant energy focused on something other than destruction?

Minutes!

When your child exclaims, "Minutes!" what would you think she was talking about?

It took me a while, but I found out that the 'Sita affectionately calls our microwave "minutes." She knows it makes things warm also and usually calls it "warm!" when it's warming. I haven't figured out why the "minutes" is so fascinating. Is it something as innocent as liking the beeping noises when you push the buttons? Is it something more sinister like the fact that her brother is usually in trouble when the "minutes" is getting used?

Either way, it is now her favorite kitchen appliance.

Beep!

24 February 2008

A Moral Moment

While explaining about how we know good actions from bad actions, I said, "..like when you want to push your sister..."

"...Or throw a rock at her!" he interjects with relish.

"Ummm.... yes. Or want to throw a rock at her..."

How you know when you've been playing too much Super Mario Galaxy


While watching her Daddy play, the 'Sita distinctly states, "Bowza, messy! Nonono!"

23 February 2008

Renaming


After deliberating about this for a while, I have decided to reinvent the Cita as the Sita. The "Cita" came from a shortening of "Rosita" (little rose), and I put a "c" instead of an "s" because it looked better to me. I forgot about "cita" being a real word in Spanish meaning, "date" or "appointment." I feel that as she gets older, it would be best to not be calling her, "my daughter, the date."

Henceforth and forthwith, she shall be known as the Sita, which name she should have been all along.

An Ah-Ha! (Svithe-ish) Moment

Once upon a time (no one knows precisely when) I listened to a talk by one of the Twelve Apostles (it could have been Elders Holland, Oaks, Eyring, or Maxwell), and it changed my life. I'm really quite sorry I don't have a better memory of who gave this talk or when it was - I know it was during my freshman year at college.

In it, the speaker told us that we were always being prompted to do good things, and that we should act on any good thing that came into our minds because it came from God. We shouldn't worry about offending the person or worrying that they wouldn't want our help, if it was potentially good, then we should just do it. I was struck by that thought then, and it still influences me now.

I remember that slightly after that talk, I found someone trying to get down a rather slick walkway (ok, so I can narrow it down to wintertime). She was a disabled girl that I had seen around, and she was doing ok, but I felt that I should go and help her down the slope. Immediately I thought, "But what if I offend her because she doesn't want help or pity?" Then I remembered that exhortation to act on any good thing I could do.

I helped her.

She was very grateful and said that I was an answer to her prayer. That seemed a little strange to me because I didn't feel like I was doing anything especially wonderful - it was just a random thought that popped into my head - not a burning desire or anything spectacular.

That experience was liberating somehow - because I could fear my own doubts a little less.

In that moment of enlightenment, I also began to understand how Heavenly Father can use us as His instruments; how small and simple things really can bring great things to pass. Perhaps not great things in the eyes of the world, but perhaps in the eyes of the person who we can help in that small moment.

17 February 2008

But I want it!

The Spozo most Maravilloso got me a new digital camera for Christmas. He did a very good job reading reviews and getting the best one for the price range it's in. Unfortunately, I still prefer my ancient one over the newcomer. I (regrettably) threw several hissy fits over the new one because it wasn't what I was used to, and the pictures I took were miserable. (Sorry to family members that I was supposed to be taking portraits of!)

The Spozo philosophically realized that he would never, not ever want me to pick out a gidget for him without much consultation and well, picking it himself; in short, that he had committed the cardinal sin of buying a me-specific gadget without my input. More, he agrees that the new camera's picture quality is not what he was expecting. Now that he has confessed and repented of this most grievous gift-giving sin, he is quite ready to let me get the Camera of My Dreams.

Within reason.

I would love to buy one of those thousands of dollars beauties, but being a (somewhat) rational creature, I have focused in on the Nikon D80. It is almost a completely irrational attraction, but I cannot deny it. Yes, yes, I know that the Canons are quite nice, too. (And having gotten to play with one recently, I can say they are very, very nice indeed!) But that doesn't change the fact that I want a Nikon.

Please?

10 February 2008

Hack, Hack

Of course one of the few Sundays we both had to be at Sacrament meeting, both of our kids are very very sick. Much of the night they spent coughing in their sleep.

So what do we do? We dress them up and bring them with us.

I don't know if I'd recommend doing this again.

Thankfully, we have wonderful friends that helped us out during the bit that we were both occupied. Thanks, friends!

Don't worry, the kidlets went (happily) home with Dad after the meeting was over. I guess some bug is taking out all the kids the Dude's age because only 2 of the usual 6 kids were there in his class today. I guess they're just exceptionally good bug sharers.

07 February 2008

I guess I am bloodthirsty

I just heard on the radio about some parents that actually .... I don't want to say encouraged ... but allowed their son to have sex with his girlfriend in his bedroom. Knowingly!

So now, if the Cita ever wants to visit her boyfriend at his house, I must have met his parents and had a nice cup of (herbal) tea with them while I get them to sign in triplicate that they will neither encourage or consent to our children being alone in a room with a closed door at all. And that if anything does happen, their son will be celibate. By force. Permanently.

Would that provide enough incentive, do you think?

05 February 2008

Rant no. 2

After wobbling between not sending the Dude to Kindergarten at all in the state of California, homeschooling, and sending him "early" (he's just past the deadline), I decided that I should at least see if I can get him in early. I wrangled the Dude and Cita to a kindergarten open house to see if I could get some questions answered.

I didn't expect that we were going on to visit every single classroom on the school grounds. The Cita panicked because of so many new faces and environments, and the Dude lost interest after 3rd grade, so we ended up staying in the halls and learning the names of the states and their capitals and looking for stars.

I did learn two valuable things: which kindergarten teacher I would trust my son to, and that his reading level was easily in the 3rd grade and perhaps in 4th grade (although my elementary-ed sis-in-law told me it was 5th-6th last summer).

The meaningless question and answer period - first with the PTA, then with a teacher, and then with the student council and then with the principal. Luckily, we were in the school's library and the kids amused themselves by reading books. Or becoming a ghost to haunt the student council and crash into folding chairs. The Dude pulled out a Dr. Seuss tome and sat at the same table as the principal to read it.

Finally, after everyone had finished asking their insipid questions about school lunches and recess and filed out, I got the principal's attention. She admitted to being impressed with his reading, she also thought that he proved himself to be emotionally ready for kindergarten and greeted with surprise the fact that he hasn't gone to (formal) preschool.

As I explained the reasons why I wanted the Dude admitted to kindergarten this year rather than next, she very agreeably agreed with most of my points. 1)the Dude can read already 1.5)he is just past the deadline 2)he is starting to do simple addition 3)he knows his numbers to 100 (mostly) 4)he's just past the deadline! She very sympathetically said the law is the law is the law... but let me give you some phone numbers.

I am so frustrated with this. I understand the need to set some limits, but I am really frustrated (see those italics?) with how the system only deals with outliers in one direction. There are a plethora of programs for "Special Education." But the Special part is for the kids that are struggling. Now, don't get me wrong, I'm glad that they have safety nets for kids that don't handle normal schooling well.

BUT.

It seems like the really smart kids are just expected to make do with the normal education. I think that is as unfair as expecting a kid that has problems learning to make do with normal education. It is NOT fair.

Should we be surprised that a lot of gifted kids are the ones that don't do well in a "normal" classroom environment? (Here's where we trot Einstein out.) I knew a couple extremely bright people that did horribly in "normal" classrooms just because they were extremely bored - or because they were always thinking outside the box, and the teachers only rewarded the inside the boxers. Once they got among their true peers (in age AND ability) they really shone. (Especially with outside-the-box-appreciating-teachers). A recent issue of Time Magazine focused on truly brilliant kids that dropped out of school for various reasons - mostly because the system neglected them in some way.

Now that I've talked to the District person once, he's promised to get back to me, he didn't, I called again, his secretary reassured me he'd get back to me, and he hasn't, I am leaning toward giving His Districtness a Severe Lecture and then opting for "homeschooling" the Dude through kindergarten. I want him to have the social fun of kindergarten, but having him sit through "A is 'a' like 'apple'" is ridiculous when he can read this: (which he did tonight without any help)

And after this manner was the language of my father in the praising of his God; for his soul did rejoice and his whole heart was filled, be-cause (hyphenated because of a line break) of the things which he had seen, yea, which the Lord had shown unto him.

03 February 2008

Contested Territory

The Dude and Cita have a new game: Who's Got Mommy?

The rules seem to be that you can play at any time. Bonus Points for being the one who starts it.

Once you have successfully gotten Mommy to snuggle with you, you turn to your sibling and laugh maniacal laughter to indicate that you have won that round.

The unsnuggled sib then comes to the mommy and tries to get possession of half of the Mommy Lapspace so that they can join in the maniacal laughter and then the jumping starts.

This lasts until the mommy goes crazy from all the bouncing and laughing and general craziness and finds something that Has To Be Done Immediately so she can jettison the children with good reason.

30 January 2008

Out with the old....



...and in with the new!




The Spozo Maravilloso has been desperate to get me a new pair of glasses. He abhorred my old Cynthia Rowley frames. I didn't think they deserved such scorn. The story is that when I tried on these Norma Kamali frames (even though I picked them out mostly to be silly), he immediately Knew These Were the Frames for Me. I didn't quite believe him, but trusted that he saw me more often and knew what I would look best in. And I think he might be right. Maybe.

29 January 2008

My son, the Outlaw


The Dude is interested in familial relationships right now, and we started discussing what an "in-law" is. After I explained that I was his Nonna's daughter-in-law, and Uncle M was my brother-in-law, he thought for a second and then said, "Then I'm your outlaw!"

Cue much riotous laughter.

28 January 2008

In loving memory


By now, you all know that President Hinckley died last night. He was a man of energy, optimism, and love. I always felt better after listening to him speak because of his unfailing confidence in us. He inspired me to try a little harder to be a little better.

He will be missed.

26 January 2008

Magic Disappearing Chocolate


While at See's Candies the other day claiming our Christmas present (thanks, Auntie C!), they gave us our usual sample chocolates. Being preoccupied with picking out which ones we wanted, I held my sample in my hand. After we had finished making the See's employee run back and forth and debating whether to get the raspberry truffle or the raspberry cream, I reached to taste my sample and found only an empty wrapper!

I immediately rounded upon the Spozo and demanded to know where my chocolate had gone! By his look of bewilderment, I surmised that he hadn't taken it. I looked mournfully to the ground and didn't spot it there, either. A little perplexed, I looked around a bit more - and then I remembered: I had a chocolate-loving Cita on my hip.

Now, chocolate is one of the few foods you can name and the Cita will immediately purse her lips and say "ooo!" while doing her happy kicky feet.

And yes, she had dexterously snitched the truffle and had already taken a dainty nibble (I told you she knows how to eat chocolate!). Obviously, the butterscotch caramel had not appeased her. I snatched it back and let the chocolate melt in my mouth, noting that it was especially tasty. I tracked down which flavor it was: Kona Mocha.

MMMMM.

Since the only time I get mocha is by happenstance, I enjoyed it thouroughly. I only hope we don't have another Mocha convert on our hands.

25 January 2008

Conversation

As I scrub the table the Dude prances in, "Hey, Mommy, I can pull [the Cita] up onto your bed!" (He likes showing off his strong muscles.)

"Hmm." I scrape off some cemented-on breakfast cereal, "That's pretty cool. Why would you do that?"

"Because I was up on the bed..... and she loves me!"


   

22 January 2008

Your Highness

During reading time today, we came across a lot of words that are not in the Dude's usual vocabulary. The words immovable, independent, miraculous, privately, century and anxious among them. (I admit to a little thrill of Parental Pride when he piped up, "And four centuries would be four hundred years!" - especially because he just got the concept of "one hundred" last week!)

For the life of me, I couldn't figure out how to describe what "with dignity" meant to my four-year old without confusing him even more. My best stuttering attempt, "like a king or queen," didn't fly because he's never really seen a king or a queen, and he literally starts crying and flees the room when we (try to) watch Disney fairytales (those villannesses are quite nasty!).

Finally, I jumped up and tried to show him how not to walk with dignity (I'm very good at that) and then attempting to walk with dignity. Of course, he wanted to try - and did so.... decidedly without dignity. Professor Higgins would've been aghast.

Long story short: I failed to describe "with dignity" with dignity, and I won't be cast as Eliza Doolittle anytime soon.

19 January 2008

Who's more wonderful?

While cleaning, the Spozo Maravilloso prickles as I lord my superior cleaning experience over him.

He waves one of his cards, "I took out the trash!"

I counter with a full house, "I washed, folded AND put your laundry in your drawers!" Smugly thinking I had won this round, I moved in for my victory kiss.

He took the wind out of my sails with this straight flush, "You're right. You're more wonderful than me."

Yea. He's right.

So he won that round.

Darn humility.

Advantage to sparring with spouse: You get a victory kiss no matter who wins.

18 January 2008

Excuse me while I laugh in your face

I admit I knew I was pushing my kids beyond their endurance when I took them into Michael's the other day. My mission was to find some yarn for belated Christmas presents. I didn't expect the trouble to begin before we had even entered the doors.

The Dude started to stage a sit-in protest due to the fact I would not let him push the wobbly Michael's cart with his sister inside. Because I wasn't taking what he considered proper action in regards to his protest, he decided to add a more vocal protest as well. Quite vocal, indeed.

We started getting attention from other customers, so I stopped completely ignoring his protests. While admiring the new Martha Stewart Crafts line (it is so divine), I explained in a neutral voice that he was in NO WAY going to win me over when he was acting like this, and that if he wanted to ride in the cart, I would be happy to put him inside once he stopped his current actions, but that he was Not going to be pushing the cart that day.

I think he's learned that I'm a pretty tough negotiator, so after some token whining he capitulated sooner rather than later. As I wheeled through the store with reformed protester in cart basket, a gentleman stopped me to say, "I was impressed with how you handled your son over there."

Blank staring from me ensues. He passed me, saying, "You must have the patience of Job."

Here's where I start laughing. Not just a little smile or titter, I am belly laughing in the Christmas clearance aisle of Michael's.

I'm still not sure if he meant it as a compliment or not, but I'd like to say, "Sir, Thank you for giving me a good laugh when I needed it, and I hope I didn't offend you."

10 January 2008

That "House of Order" thing might have something to it

I've been meaning for months to put a schedule together for the week. Mostly just for me to say, "Gee, today is Laundry Day - I'd better do some!" or "Even though the bathtub is not growing red algae yet, I shall clean it to be Ahead of the Game!"

Over Christmas, my dear Mother-in-Law suggested that I put things like naps and potty times on a schedule because the Dude does much better when he knows something is coming and when to expect it. When she started speaking, the light started shining and that cool wind started blowing my hair all around and then I knew it was Inspiration.

Accordingly, I've drawn up a "schedule" and getting him to sit on the toilet for five minutes or relaxing on his bed and quietly reading his books is now as easy as asking, "Well, what's on the schedule?"

Just because I inscribed "poo time" and "REST" on a piece of paper seven times!

The Begging and Pleading and finally Ordering on Pain of TubTime associated with getting him to sit on the throne to make a deposit have vanished AND he has actually Taken a Nap Without Prenaptual Tantrum.

My faith in scheduling is restored.

Amen.