Saturday, January 26, 2008

Name This Gift

My little inventor is always giving me gifts that he's dreamed up to make my life easier and more magical than it already is. See if you can guess the intended purpose for this invention:

Friday, January 25, 2008

Hero Quest

Thoughts on Heath Ledger

I was so shocked to read that he died! He's so young, and didn't have a bad reputation for partying and drugs. All seriousness aside though, I have learned something that I will try to remember and put into practice in my own life. It's a good lesson for all of us. Death comes unexpectedly. From now on, if I sense the afterworld near, or get a premonition of impending doom, I'm going to make sure I'm wearing pants. And clean underwear. Because you never know, do you ? I'm just sayin'....

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Spongebob Squarepants and the Fiery Fist O' Pain

That's what he said he was drawing on my new closet door. Just try keeping a straight face when your two year old says 'fiery fist o' pain'. I dare you. It can't be done. He did not get spanked for this. "Why?", you ask. Because it was my fault. "Your fault?", you inquire. Yes. I didn't give him the marker and tell him to draw on the door, but I saw him with the marker earlier and didn't put it away high enough. I then proceeded to ignore him (i.e. got busy elsewhere) and gave him his chance. I would have spanked my first child, but now I take pictures, explain that we just draw on paper, and help him clean it up. See, I've learned through painful experience one of the grand secrets of life: don't ignore the little voice in your head. For example: you see your keys lying in an accessible place. A little voice says, "you should put those up". You ignore the voice, and your keys are found three years later under your front porch. Or for a more recent example: I see my new bottle of eye makeup remover on the bathroom counter. "Put it away" says the little voice. When I walk in the bathroom this morning and find it nearly empty, who do I have to blame? Me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Showdown at Ted Browns

He calls this his 'Mad Dangerous Face'
It was a really busy afternoon. My second son was due to start violin lessons the next day, and he needed a Suzuki book. I had just enough time to make it to the music store before I had to pick up the kids for car pool. As I began my mad dash, I was seized by indecision. "Do I drive all the way across town, or do I try the little music store in the other direction?" I couldn't resist the urge to try the smaller one. I made the detour, only to find that the store was only open a few hours that day, and this wasn't one of them. Could I make it to the other one now? Only time would tell. Have I told you that I get really, really anxious about being late? It gets me all cramped-up inside. Of course, I made it to the store in time, but I was still a bit ruffled. As I hauled my youngest two across the parking lot, #4 wanted to tie his shoe laces in the street. I frantically gesture for him to do it inside, so he slowly, slowly follows me. We finally made it through the doors, and I hear an audible gasp from the little one in my arms. Guitars, everywhere. Little six year-old dashes from instrument to instrument, wide-eyed, while the little guy watches longingly. Of course they have them down by the ground. I head straight to a clerk to make my request. K reaches out and begins softly plucking, and little L has had more than he can bear. While the clerk is searching the shelf in front of me, little L begins insisting that he must 'git dow'. Right now. I shush him and return my attention to the clerk, who in now searching the stacks behind. Then it happens. Have you ever been holding on to a hose when the water comes on with great pressure? It whips around in every direction, squirting like crazy. This is what he did right then. I had him securely by the hips, but everything above went whipping around at impossible angles, and instead of spraying water, he was spewing sound. Lots of it. The whole store turns to see what is making all that racket. The lady finally stands up to tell me that they're out of stock, averting her eyes from the squalling beast in my arms. I smile apologetically and thank her. I turn, holding him perhaps a little more firmly than is strictly necessary. He pauses to take a breath, and realizes that we're leaving. He blurts out, "No owie bop-bops!". My what a marvelous idea! He knew he was dead meat, and he knew he deserved it. I'm not big on corporal punishment. He's hardly ever been spanked. It seems the longer I've been a parent, the less it's needed. My poor oldest child had way more spankings and time outs by this age than my younger guys. There are times though, when it comes in quite handy. This was one of them. Somewhere, in his little brain, was recorded the rule "Act like a little rot, and you get spanked". I couldn't let him down.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Our Wild and Crazy Weekend

It was Friday night, and we were ready to party. No, we were ready to PAR-TAY! So what did we do? Go clubbing? Dancing? Making out in our car? Nope. We were in the middle of a really good book, so we snuggled up together and read. Only, I wasn't up for as much action as the rest of the family was. They made it until 11:15, whereas, I passed out a little after 9. Lame, I know. I just can't party like I used to. At least they got a really good shot of up my nose.
What were we reading that had everyone but tired Mommy so engrossed? My friends, I think it's time to introduce you to Nancy Farmer. We've been reading the Sea of Trolls, a story about a boy from England during the time of the Vikings. Very, very good stuff. She does meticulous research, and it's especially fascinating to me because my ancestors came from both the good guys and the bad guys. Nancy has won three Newberry honors. I doubt that's ever been done before. #1,2 and I read the House of the Scorpion, and let me tell you, it was intense. It explores the morality of human cloning. I wouldn't let anyone under ten be around for that one though. Like I said, it's gripping. A Girl Named Disaster was fantastic! It follows an African girl's journey from a remote village to civilization in search of her dad. She tries to reconcile her traditional beliefs to modern life. The story was a bit earthy though; there was this witch woman in her dreams named 'Long Teats' whose breasts were so long that she wrapped them around herself like a blanket. My boys thought that was hilarious. I don't think any but the oldest even really got what that meant. The girl starts her period while she's on her journey, so that was a great conversation starter. It's important to me that my boys don't grow up totally female ignorant. So what I'm saying is, they aren't really good bedtime stories for the very young, per se. They're more like books that suck you in so completely that your laundry pile grows unnoticed.

Accountability Update

We've been doing the accountability board for about a month now, and get a load of this!Green is good. It means they took care of business without me having to get on their case. I think more scripture is getting read in this house than ever in the history of our family.

Can you say, "Ka-ching?"
Two perfect weeks, from two great kids.
It's been really exciting to see the boys take on more responsibility. The only real hitch is getting them to pick up after themselves. I still find their stuff all over, and it drives me crazy to have to step over it for an hour or so, so I'll put their crud on the table. That feels wrong, because I shouldn't have to touch their stuff at all. Hmmm. Any ideas?
One of the best things to develop from this, is a reward for getting everything done early. We decided that as soon as we have accountability time before dinner, the new day begins. If a guy wants to, say, practice violin, clean his room, and read his scriptures for 20 minutes before bed, he's in the clear for the next day. If a boy comes to me and tells me he's accountable before 4:30, he gets a frozen treat. The other boys look on longingly, and wipe the drool from their chins. Then they get to work. The only way to finish that early though, is to start the night before.
I could tell the concept was sinking in, when we were all doing our Saturday chores. "Why do we have to spend ALL day Saturday working?" whined #3. "Well, we need to get all the deep-cleaning stuff done once a week, and Saturday is the day you're all home" I explained. I could see the wheels turning in his head. Then he suggested, "What if I do a little bit of my chores after school all week. Then could I play on Saturday?". I answered by lifting my arms heavenward and singing "HALLELUJAH!" "I mean, yes, that would be fine."

Why My Family is a Bit Bent

Like Father,

Like Son.