Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Soren Speaks

SOREN:  I have finally figured out what parents are.

SCOTT:  Is this the kind of thing that is going to get you sent to your room?

SOREN:  No.  They are what I don't like.  So when I grow up I'm going to have no wife and no kids ... and I will end this madness!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Boys Speak

SOREN:  Guess why the Jews lived in Judea?  Because they were Jews.

CARL:  Yeah.  Their last name is "-Ew" so they live in Jewdea.

SCOTT:  Well, the two things are not unrelated.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Best Things about Soren (at 6 and a 1/2)

1. He is generally cheerful and is generous with his good cheer.
2. He talks candidly about his anger, sorrow, and frustration.
3. He loves to read.  His favorite books are manga but I can occasionally catch him caught up in a good chapter book.
4. He has a wild and wonderful imagination.
5. He is excited about homeschooling and first grade.
6. He bonds readily to other adult authorities.  He loves his primary teachers and his swim teacher.
7. He has a beautiful, innocent faith in God's love.
8. He stands up for himself in increasingly positive ways.
9. He is enthusiastic about life and learning.
10. He helps me a lot.  (That is, when I can grab enough of his attention to make a request.)
11. When we go grocery shopping, he can fetch items from the next aisle over.
12. He can also fetch Sven when he toddles down the driveway.
13. He can assemble the ingredients when I am trying a new recipe.
14. He can execute all the different stages of the laundry chore: putting in a new load, switching the load, folding the clothes, and putting everything away.
15. He can play games with Carl and is a good sport.
16. He also can read to Carl and often does during their Brother Playtime.
17. He can dry the dishes lickety split.
18. He can take out the trash.  He enjoys that chore so much that he often volunteers to do it when he is bored.
19. He takes great pride in being able to do things on his own.
20. He has a big personality and I love it.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Carl Speaks

CARL:  Dear Heavenly Father, We're so grateful for this day.  Please bless our breakfast.  And please bless Mommy that she will remember to come and get these dinner leftovers off the table.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Milestone: Somersaults

Sven can do a somersault.

He's very proud of himself.  Up until tonight, he has needed someone to help him get his legs over his head.  But now he does it all by himself.  His obvious delight is pretty cute.

I think it is also pretty amazing.  Maybe this kind of gross-motor development is normal but it seems really advanced to me.  

Then again, he does nothing but practice.  All day long, he climbs on everything in sight.  Using his body in new ways is his only delight.  Toys don't entertain him at all; only challenging new spaces can capture his attention.  And failure doesn't bother him.  When he falls, he picks himself right back up with a laugh.  

As a result, Sven can do all kinds of things that surprise me:  
* He gets himself in and out of the bathtub (sometimes fully dressed).
* He goes up the stairs while holding onto the railing.
* He climbs the ladder to our neighbor's bunk bed.
* He sits on top of the child-sized table.
* He uses the play equipment at McDonald's.
* He pushes himself down the slides at the park and then tries to climb back up them.
* He does somersaults!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Carl Speaks

CARL:  Cat food tastes a lot worse than I thought.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Midsummer 2014

As Midsummer approached this year, I found myself thinking a lot about change.  The kind of change that John the Baptist advocated when he preached: "Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  The summer solstice, which fell on Midsummer's Day this year, is a turning point in the Earth's seasonal dance.  And I wanted to make it a turning point in my life.  A time to make a change that would help me "prepare ... the way of the Lord" and "make his paths straight".

I prayed a lot in the days leading up to our Midsummer camping trip, hoping that I would have the change of heart I needed to make a change of habits.  I had a list of character defects and bad habits I felt particularly discouraged about and hoped that God would grant me the strength to be better.  He did just that but not in the way I was expecting.

I didn't really feel like I was receiving an answer to my prayers.  I didn't feel confident about going out into the desert and laying down a goal for myself.  And what I realized is that I can't change overnight.  Change in my life, like change in the seasons, is incremental.  And rather than casting off in one fell swoop all my weaknesses, God encouraged me to cast off my guilt.  To forgive myself as He has forgiven me.  To make my fresh start knowing full well that I would make mistakes.  And to spend less time obsession about the past and more time living in the moment.

It was a marvelous feeling: going out on our camping trip, casting off my burdens, and enjoying the moment.

Here are some of the things we did:

1. Before bugging out entirely, I taught a harp lesson in Provo.  Scott took all the boys to the Bean Life Science Museum at BYU.  They had a great time together, just the boys and all the taxidermied animals.  Seeing Scott successfully managing all three of his sons solo was a great start to the trip.  
2. It is a two-and-a-half hour drive to Topaz Mountain from Provo and, although we have been there many times before, we got lost this time.  And so it was about three-and-a-half hours.  Our portable DVD player only made it halfway.  So I taught the kids to sing "There's a Hole in the Middle of the Lake", which they requested over and over and over again.  
3. Sven, who was pretty upset about the car ride when he woke up from his nap, was very happy to arrive at Topaz Mountain.  It was like a giant sandbox!  We all checked our drinks before taking a sip every time, just to make sure that he hadn't added some local flavor.
4. Getting the site set up was an especial challenge this year because the wind was so fierce.  Our tent was blown down several times and Scott had a hard time getting the fire going.  But we opened the cooler and let the kids enjoy whatever snacks they wanted, which significantly improved morale.  
5. We hiked up into the mountain to look at wildlife and do some shooting (at targets).  Scott gets into teacher mode whenever we are out in the wild, which is fun to see.  He pointed out lizards and gopher droppings and rock formations.  There was a giant lizard that followed us around for a while, much to the kids amusement.  Most excitingly, we found an intact snake skin, complete with eye coverings!  The shedding snake is a symbol of rebirth, which seemed appropriate, given the season.
6. We had the best hot dogs for dinner: cheddar wurst.  We also took a stab at dutch oven cobbler, which turned out pretty gross.  Only Sven really seemed to enjoy it.  Oh, well.  We learned something valuable.
7. I was able to coax Carl into singing around the campfire with me.  He was a good sport about it, which was fun for me.  We took turns picking songs to sing; "There's a Hole in the Middle of the Lake" was still a favorite.  Amusingly, the kids protested whenever I picked a Primary song.  "No church music!" they would say.  I didn't push my luck because, after all, I was just glad to have someone willing to sing with me.
8. Carl got tired of sitting around the fire once the food was finished so he went to bed first.  Soren stayed up to watch the stars come out.  Although I attempted to put Sven down as soon as he looked tired, he didn't want to go but stayed up snuggling on Scott's lap.  When the boys were finally all sleeping in the tent, Scott and I stayed up to enjoy the quiet night.  Getting away from civilizations ambient noise is one of my favorite things about Topaz Mountain.
9. The next day, we couldn't get a fire started.  It was too windy.  So we had granola bars for breakfast.  (Sven had more gross cobbler.)  
10. We did some more shooting a little closer to the campsite.  I used Scott's revolver and actually hit a glass bottle!  That was enough for me but Soren wanted Scott to shoot his very loud rifle, which he was happy to do.  We had a repeat of last year's lessons about how to be safe around firearms and how a gun works.  
11. And, after that, Sven just wanted to go home.  He'd had enough of family vacation.  He cried at the car door until I let him in and then he just huddled in his carseat, waiting for us to pack up.  Fortunately, he slept most of the way home.
12. We stopped at the only our favorite malt shop in  Nephi for chicken nuggets and shakes.  There is a park across the street, which makes it a great place for a mid-way stretch your legs.  We had to do a lot of pushing our kids on swings but it certainly refreshed our spirits.
13. One of the best things about the Topaz Mountain trip is getting home.  No, seriously.  Getting a shower, sleeping on a bed, using a toilet ... these are luxuries you really don't appreciate until you have spent some time away.  I love the peace and the stars, the bugs and the animals, the closeness and the adventure of our favorite camping spot.  But I definitely prefer home.  Especially since I left my guilt behind in the desert.