Where the inside of my mind leaks onto the screen.

Monday, February 27, 2012

I Am Happy

I am happy because...

... I successfully helped Adam prepare his talk without having to raise my voice even once.
... I am learning to compromise.  We happily traded word-for-word memorization for keywords and an emphasis on eye contact.
... Adam really did write this talk pretty much by himself.  I supplied the suggestion of a song to start and found the scripture to end, but the meat of this one is all Adam.
... my incredibly handsome seven-year-old speaks with confidence and clarity and makes his mama proud.
... with technology, I can share our small successes with a supportive audience.

As for Adam, "I am happy when I choose the right."

Friday, February 24, 2012


"Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist.  Children already know the dragons exist.  Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed."  -- G. K. Chesterton

I'd like to think I have equal parts rationality and imagination.  Certainly there are times when one outweighs the other.  If a family member is not home when they said they would be, the imagination takes over far too quickly.  Kirk would argue that when we play word games, the rationality is all too present.  But I think the need for both is equally present in our world.

As far as the kids go, I currently have one rational, one imaginative, and one redhead.

Adam is logic.  It oozes out of his skin.  He uses it to win arguments, to manipulate, to get from point A to point B.  It's a default setting from which he rarely strays.

Adam: Mom - Alex keeps repeating me!
Me: The best way to get him to stop repeating you is to just not talk.
Adam: No, if I don't talk, then he'll just be repeating me not talking.

Alex is imagination.  I've told these stories before.  Chocolate cake crumbs, in his mind, are brown sugar monsters.  Things that appear in our house were obviously wished for.  Lost shoes fly into outerspace; monsters exist.  And my little boy lives in a uncharted territory we call Alex-Land.

I worry about both kids, honestly.  Will Adam be able to develop enough imagination to be able to creatively problem solve?  Will Alex be able to cope in a reality-driven society?  Of course I think they'll both level off a bit as they get older, but as Mom, it's my job to prepare them.  

How fun to think that truly, fairy tales may be the answer.  Mr. Logical will easily grasp the allegory and could certainly benefit from the fun.  And for Mr. Imagination, perhaps he'd sleep better knowing he has the power to kill the dragons.  

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Help Wanted: Personal Assistant

I kind of really like the idea of having a personal assistant.  You know - someone to do all the stuff I really just don't want to do.  He or she would:

  • Arrange the chairs in my classroom at 11, rearrange them for the middle school choir at 12:15, and then put them back how I like them again at 1:15
  • Move the wet clothes from the washer to the dryer (I can barely reach in there... c'mon!)
  • Hang up my clothes at the end of the day
  • Keep track of my keys, wallet, and cell phone
  • Charge my camera battery
  • Keep my kids' shoes in pairs and in their closets
  • Remove items I don't need from my car
  • Keep track of library due dates
  • Make bank deposits
  • Ensure that Alex has one clean pair of pants without holes in the knees ready for each school day
  • Bag my groceries
  • Fasten my seat belt, lock my front door, and place any needed daily medications in my open palm
  • Stock Carmex in my purse, laptop case, diaper bag, primary tote, car, and each coat/jacket pocket; remove Carmex before I do the wash
  • Prompt Adam through the first several sentences he seems to always need to say before he gets to the point; cue me when it's my turn to listen
  • Organize my electronic files
  • Mop the bathrooms
  • Clean up spilled drinks
  • Make copies
  • Keep my water bottle full
  • Enter grades into the computer
  • Drive carpool home

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Growing Old

"Growing old is mandatory; growing up is optional." -- Chili Davis

After experiencing some next-day pain after showing my students that I can, in fact, do a one-handed cartwheel, I thought a bit about where that drive to stay young comes from.  I didn't have to look far for a shining example.

Here's my dad, one month shy of 54, showing my cousin's oldest and then my ex-Air Force cousin how it's done.

Thanks, dad, for teaching me how to stay young!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Definitions of Tradition

Tradition, as defined by Urban Dictionary:  "The reason for doing things which have no apparent reason."

Son: "Dad, why are you peeing on the cat?"

Dad: "Because it is Tradition {Gosh Darnit}. Every July 23rd we pee on a cat. My Father peed on a cat, his father peed on a cat and you're also gonna pee on the cat."

I'm really hoping our Valentines tradition (officially a tradition now that we've done it twice, right?) means more than that to our kids.

I'm hoping they'll see that a first date led to an engagement which lead to a temple marriage which lead to a family.  In that order.

I'm hoping they'll see that family is pretty much the most important thing we have, and a day to celebrate love pretty much has to include everybody.

I'm hoping they'll anticipate the known activities, discussing what they're going to order and trash-talking their bowling scores weeks in advance.

I'm hoping that post-mission, they'll correlate the yearly reminder of Mom & Dad's first date with the church's encouragement to date.

Regardless of the future implications, this year we had FUN!  Looking back at last year's inaugural photos, I can see several apparent differences.  The Old Spaghetti Factory was less packed since we went the day before the actual holiday.  Dylan bowled this year.  Adam really bowled this year - fingers in the holes and everything.  I did not have the killer score I somehow posted last year.

This year's scores: 
Dylan:  72
Alex:    66
Adam:  77
Mom:   73
Dad:    110

And there were plenty of similarities.  Adam ordered the spinach ravioli again this year, and he downed it in minutes.  And then he ate half of Dylan's mac-and-cheese.  Dylan's favorite food was still the ice cream.  The boys were mostly well behaved at both the restaurant and the bowling alley.  We still all like each other.  :)

A final perspective on tradition:

"The abstract, commonly referenced concept of beating up underdeveloped-farm-boy football teams for a number of years, then winning only one National Championship game after those other teams figured out how to play football.

"Most often associated with the University of Michigan.

"Our football program has a rich history founded on tradition."

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Two Kinds of Stuck

I work for my dad every Friday afternoon.  I basically manage his office; filing, payroll, accounts payable, invoicing, etc, and it means a weekly call to my dad that pretty much starts out the same way every week.

Me: Dad, is there anything you need done this week?

Often, I catch him toward the end of his workday, and he'll ask if I can wait the five or fifteen or however many minutes until he's back at the office (aka: home), and we'll just go through the invoicing together.

This past Friday's call went precisely that way as he explained that he was just finishing up some repairs at the home of a family friend who lives only minutes away.  I hung up and returned to my tasks, not at all anticipating the next phone call.

Dad: Um... I probably won't be home as soon as I'd said.

Me: Okay.  What happened?

Dad: Well, I kind of put my truck in a hole.

Me: (Feeling much more like the parent in this situation) Do you need my help?

Dad: Yeah, probably.  I doubt I'm going to be able to get it out by myself.

Me: Okay, where are you?  I have Skyler and Perry with me... we'll come help.

Dad: Um... I took a short cut...

Me: (Shaking my head)  So how exactly do I get to where you are?

My dad proceeded to give me directions to a dirt road which connects "the neighborhood" (as it was referred to when it was a part of one of the many wards they've been randomly assigned to while living in their current location) to the Coke plant road and directions to find a tow rope in his shop.  I loaded up and headed out to his rescue.  Heaven knows he's rescued me enough to deserve the returned favor.

And here's what I found.  He didn't manage to find just any hole.  No, he'd backed into a large, man-made, cement trap and not an inch of tire was touching anything besides air.  

After an unsuccessful attempt at creating some traction (I missed it, but Skyler told me that the tire shot the board out, knocking my dad over quite successfully), we went the boring route and just hooked up the tow rope and pulled the truck out.  I carefully backed my car up - avoiding all the holes - and went home, unaware that this was only my first experience with stuck for this weekend.

After a fun night of dinner and games at a friend's cabin in Midway, we woke Sunday morning to this:

It looked gorgeous on the trees.  It looked gorgeous in the valley (even if it did obscure the gorgeous view I'd intended to photograph).

But it looked significantly less gorgeous here, especially knowing I had precisely 2 hours to get down the mountain, through Park City, out to Draper to pick up the kids, and back home for choir practice at 11 am.

It caused even more problems here, as Jason's car momentarily got stuck in the driveway.

We did a pretty fun version of sledding down the mountain in a car.  You could hear the anti-lock brakes going crazy and feel the car doing whatever it pleased.  As we slid, we discussed the options (since stopping was apparently not one of them) and concluded that if necessary, Kirk would steer into a snowbank.  We'd be stuck, but at least not injured.  Thankfully, he was able to guide the car's descent, and we made a slow but safe trip back home.

Two kinds of stuck in one weekend?  I'll just be grateful to have fun stories to tell!

Thursday, February 2, 2012


"...But this is not a fairy tale.  This is about REAL WITCHES..."

Alex's eyes got so huge that for a moment I second-guessed my choice of bedtime book.  But my literally captive audience hung on every word, and I realized that for quite possibly the first time since the boys discovered that the definition of "brother" is "ready-made backseat best friend," Kirk and I did not have to spend the majority of the ride home from the library issuing reminders like, "How many times do I have to tell you, you guys can't be that loud in the car?!"  In that moment, I stood firm in my decision: Roald Dahl's The Witches.

It took a few convergent paths to arrive at this moment.

1.  The bedtime story path: We read a bedtime story to the kids almost every night.  They have their favorites.  Are You My Mother?  They love to take turns saying SNORT.  Snug House, Bug House.  Pretty sure they have that one memorized.  I have my favorites.  Fox in Socks.  The tweetle beetle battle is just so fun to read.  And I know that the repetition of familiar books is good for little minds.

But it is so boring for can't-sit-still-anyway moms like me.  Instead of enjoying the reading time, I zone out - mouth reading words while brain organizes tomorrow's schedule - and I know I'm missing out on precious time.

2.  The library path: A few weeks ago on the way home from school, I told Adam I needed to stop at the library to drop off some overdue items (that's how I roll).  "Oh, Mom... can we go in?" he asked.  We actually had a pretty full evening planned, but I'm pretty pro-library, so we stole a few minutes to go in and look around.  Adam chose a couple of books and movies, and I happened past a book which caught my attention.  "Roald Dahl," it said in large letters across the top.  The title read, Vile Verses, and knowing that Roald Dahl's works belong in two categories: children's books and SO NOT CHILDREN'S BOOKS, I cracked the cover for a quick double check.  Goldilocks.  Veruca Salt.  Snow White.  We're good.

I took the book home and read from it nightly for the three weeks it was ours.  The boys enjoyed choosing the poems, and they were short enough that I could read two or three on some nights.  Kirk enjoyed listening to Dahl's depiction of Goldilock's fat behind.  I enjoyed reading words I hadn't read thirteen million times.  And I remembered how much I love Roald Dahl.

3.  The Roald Dahl path: I always loved reading.  My first memory is of being four years old and flying from Utah to Ohio.  I don't remember the plane.  I don't remember my uncle's funeral (the reason for the flight).  But I clearly recall the feeling of utter despair when I realized I'd left my bag of books on the plane.  But when I read Roald Dahl, the love became more of an obsession.  The BFG was the first book I read cover-to-cover without stopping for more than a meal or bathroom break, and I remember the feeling of satisfaction when I placed the book on top of my dresser.  Finished.  I devoured all of his children's books, loving each, and was elated in sixth grade when I realized I'd missed one.  Danny, the  Champion of the World did not disappoint!

4.  The reading group path: At the beginning of the school year, Adam's reading was iffy.  He was well above what was expected in his public kindergarten but under his true potential and grade level at NPA.  In fact, he was put in a lower math group because he couldn't read the story problems well enough to keep up.  Thankfully, with great reading teachers and dedication to reading 15 minutes every night, his reading has skyrocketed.  In November, he moved math groups, with reading no longer a hindrance.  This week, he's moved reading groups, and I'm confident that in Mrs. Neff's group, he's just going to continue to soar.

In September, his 15 minutes got him painfully through a few pages of One Fish, Two Fish, or a similar book.  By November, he could make it through its entirety in 15 minutes.  Now, he's devoured every children's book we own, and he rolls his eyes when he finishes a book and the response to "How long have I been reading?" is "Four minutes, dude."

His Grandma Casdorph, wonderfully accessible at school since she teaches across the hall from me, told Adam to come visit her classroom if he got moved up a reading group.  She wants to introduce him to the Boxcar Children series.  I'd already suggested to him that it's probably time to replace his evening Dr. Seuss with some chapter books, so he was up for the idea.

We haven't had a chance to meet with Grandma yet, but we did take a trip to the library last night.  I carefully perused the YE section: the early readers.  I looked at the library's suggested list for 1st graders, and there was not a thing that would have kept Adam busy for a full 15 minutes.  Inexplicably proud, I left the YE section and ventured into a whole new area: YF.  I found the Boxcar series, and while I think Adam is fully capable, the sheer volume of words per page seemed a bit daunting.  Referencing the latter half of the libary's second grade list, I settled on Pirates Eat Porridge, and Never Glue Your Friends to Chairs.  I'm mentally working on a great reward for the first chapter book finished.

5.  The Read It First pledge path: A friend of mine has a badge on her blog which means she committed to always read the book first before seeing a book-based movie.  I love this idea.  I haven't pledged {yet} but the idea is firmly rooted in my mind.  Especially in this era when great books become great movies so very quickly, it really does take commitment to read before watching.  In pondering ideas to make reading seem really awesome at our house, I thought about reading books to the boys which have been made into movies.  We can read the book together, then watch the movie together, possibly forging some sort of subconscious Read It First.  It'll just be the way it is.

And all of that comes from setting a good example at home.  I figured we could also support Adam's transition by reading our bedtime books over the course of several nights.  So all the paths led to me sitting at the library, five Roald Dahl books in hand, asking Alex to pick which book I would be reading to them.  He picked The Witches, but I couldn't stop myself from bringing home a gorgeously old copy of The BFG for which I may end up just paying the replacement fine, because I'm not sure I'll have the willpower to return it.  I mean - it comes with a bookmark!

So there it is.  The long tale of how it came to be that my boys are anxiously awaiting further discoveries about REAL WITCHES.  Of how it came to be that I can't wait for story time tonight so I can share the joy of reading with my boys.  And if Alex has nightmares about witches, I guess we'll have a story for that, too.