Friday, February 1, 2008

Meet My Cousin Ben

This is my cousin Ben. His family lives next door, including his film-making little brother Eric. Ben lives in town, and is over to our house at least a couple of times a week. Nothing's boring when Ben is around. He cracks us up with his funny ways of telling stories. He climbs our trees and rope swings like a monkey. We (I) love it when he stays for dinner because he can eat a ton, and is always appreciative of my cooking. The kids have free reign climbing all over him. He always has time to take in every detail of my oldest son's latest 3-d animation projects. He downloads tutorials for him and gives him tips. Ben means the world to him. He's best buddies with Thomas, and when they get silly, it's a serious effort not to pee your pants from laughing so hard. We sure love him.

Here's a little video that gives you a taste of his personality. Everyone should have a Ben.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Oi Vey!

This picture illustrates the sad story of my life right now. It is a loaf of beautiful, freshly-ground whole wheat bread that actually turned out right. I lovingly made it for the fruit of my womb, to nourish and strengthen them when they got home from school. I left an older boy in charge, and took another son to violin lessons. When I got back, I found my bread on the ground. Where was my dependable babysitter? Asleep, on the couch downstairs. It appears the baby got peckish, and helped himself.
That's nothing to the reception I got when I came in from viola lessons yesterday. Another trusty brother got distracted with video games. I came in to hear water gushing from the basement ceiling onto the carpet. It seems Baby got a little thirsty and helped himself to some water in the bathroom sink. And blocked the drain with a towel, and walked away. "I don't understand how this could have happened!" he wailed. "He was just here a minute ago!" I hear you, brother. Yesterday that same angelic baby took a permanent marker to my velvety upholstered dining chairs. And the computer. I swear, he was just by me minutes before too. So after no school on Friday, my husband working Saturday, being snowed in on Sunday, no school Monday or Tuesday, then disasters Wednesday and Thursday....This Chicky's Cracked!

Monday, January 28, 2008

Snowed-in Sacrament Meeting

We had a great day yesterday! A super-rare thing happened. It snowed. And it kept snowing. And the snow stayed. Our fine city's usual response to snow is "Let's wait to see if it melts before we plow." There was a layer of ice under the snow, so church was canceled. That hardly ever happens either. I started planning a little devotional for just our family, when my husband got a brilliant idea. He called the Bishop, and asked for permission to have Sacrament Meeting in our home. We invited our LDS neighbors, and had a houseful! Thirty-one people ended up coming! We had six talks, one from each family. It was a such a wonderful experience. Some were dressed in ties, others in jeans, and all of us were so happy to be together. I wish I had taken a picture when everyone was here, but here is a before picture. The boys couldn't resist hopping on the benches.I love my neighborhood.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Total, Complete Domination

We've had some pretty pathetic Pinewood Derbies. My wonderful, talented husband's skills didn't appear to extend far enough into derby car construction. Our oldest's was plenty creative, but really, r e a l l y, s l o w. Our little 8 year old was crushed when he only won one race. And that was because the other kid's wheel fell off. Not kidding. The next boy had a little more success. I think he was fifth out of eight. Slightly better. All the older dads took pity on us, and whispered their tricks of the trade. They involved complicated and slightly shady practices that incorporated copper tubing, drill presses and the like.
This year we realized that little D's pinewood derby was in two days. And we didn't even have the car yet. They had one evening to cut out and paint the car. Having learned from painful experience, they decided on a simple design, instead of cutting the block into little pieces and gluing it back together into a fancy shape. Aerodynamic, that's the key. (I get a kick out of that picture, it makes me giggle. I'm so immature! ) Then I called my parents, the conversation went something like this: "Um, Mom? Can I ask a really, REALLY big favor?" silence. Remember, they watched my kids for 10 days when we were in Poland. That was a really big favor. "What do you have in mind?" she asks, trying to conceal the dread in her voice. I explained the predicament we were in. She perks up right away. "Sure!" They're the kings of Pinewood Derby car construction. They looked all over for the box holding their technical instruments reserved for this purpose, but couldn't find it. So they sanded all the nails to remove burrs, and got it all ready. On the big night, my husband greatly lamented the absence of graphite. He called the neighbor to see if they have any. No joy. Then he got an idea. He climbed on a chair, rummaged in a cupboard above the fridge, and voila! My parents special kit. So, they were off! The axle's were straight, the nails were smooth, the wheels spun true.
And what was the result? We must have built up some really good karma with all our defeats, because my boy's car was TOTALLY UNDEFEATED! He rocked! This is a boy that tries to hide it when he's excited. He kept saying "I don't want to win, I don't even want to go!" I asked him if he was a little scared of being embarrassed, and he nodded. He's a quiet middle child, the one we try hard not to overlook. If anyone deserved to rock the derby, it was him.

The final race.

He gets his medal.

So, so proud.
*Editor's note* My husband informed me that the success of the derby car was due to three factors: Sanding down the burrs on the nails, an innovative invention of his for getting the nails in straight involving a metal thingy and some clamps, and something else I can't remember. There, Dear, how was that? Better?

Big Brother, Little Brother

Thanks for your great ideas for the use of this gift. I'll consider using it for all of them, especially the nose picker. The story of my gift is this: he presented it to me one morning, saying that I may, for some reason, need a (using a very high voice)little tiny duster. I assured him that this was frequently the case, and thanked him for his thoughtfulness. I get a lot of really, really unique gifts from my little guys. I was discussing this with my husband, and he told me "Think about it. They don't have much money, they don't have regular access to the store. They give you whatever they can find on hand to make you happy." I think that makes a lot of sense.