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.


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?


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.