Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shake it like a digital camera

I was downloading pictures from my memory card recently and was surprised to find this one. Apparently, J got hold of the camera when no one was supervising.

You need audio to appreciate the humor.

It's The Network

I was awakened at 6am today by the sound of my cellphone chirping loudly at the other end of the house. Seems it needed to notify me that I'd received a voicemail message. Wondering what could be so urgent that someone would call before dawn WHILE I'M ON VACATION! I listened to the message.

It was from 10 days ago. Just arrived this morning.

Thanks, Verizon.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Vacation update

Well, we're back to modern living after a 36 hour technology drought. I packed up the kids and headed to Grandma & Papa's house yesterday for a leisurely day of floating in the pool and playing with tinker toys. It was heavenly! We went planning to stay overnight. B come over after work so the two of us could have "date night." What with the kids going to bed there and us not having to worry about getting a babysitter home at a reasonable hour, we could party as late as we pleased. So we went crazy and stayed out until 10:45. (If I'm not mistaken, that's earlier than my curfew in high school.) Nothing like not sleeping through the night once in the past 4 years to make going to bed seem more exciting than anything going on around town!

My parents, the honorable people that they are, have chosen to spend their money more wisely than we have. They do not have cable TV and they have internet access via a dial-up modem. Groan. Since I'm normally on my computer dozens of times a day, it was a bit of a change of pace.

No cable and no internet means no weather channel and no -- which probably explains how I managed to choose today, the most miserably hot day of this week, to take the kids to the zoo. We saw lions and tigers and monkeys lying listlessly, belly-up, in whatever shade they could find. It's pretty bad when it's too hot even for the African animals! They looked as wiped out as we felt.

The kids loved it despite the heat. H tried to talk to lots of the animals. The only animal languages she's learned yet are feline and bovine, and generally she prefers feline. We'd say, "look at the camels!" And she'd point to them and say, "meow!" "Look, an anteater!" "Meow!"

J loved pretty much everything except the reptile house. It's not that he has a problem with reptiles in general. Going in there was, after all, his idea. (I certainly didn't suggest it.) The problem was, it happened to be feeding time for one of the snakes while we were there. He had just started in on a very large white rat. The head was already down the gullet, but the rest of him was still visible. My tenderhearted boy was pretty upset on behalf of the rat. When we got home he told me that we should go back and tell the zookeeper to feed the snake crackers instead. I'd rather tell the zookeeper to feed it nothing at all.

Did I mention it's supposed to be a high of 75 tomorrow? Or so I heard on the weather channel this evening when we got home.

--My sincere apologies to my mother for this post - first for insulting her internet access, then for discussing snakes which will no doubt cause her nightmares. But she probably won't see it until next week when she's back at our house and can surf the web :)

Monday, August 27, 2007

A Scary Ride

I think the last time I rode a really big roller coaster was when I was a senior in high school. I used to really enjoy them. I'd go on the Gemini or the Blue Streak over and over again. But then, they started building them bigger than I had the stomach for. A bunch of us went to Cedar Point at the end of our senior year. My friend Jennifer Dixon and I decided to ride the new roller coaster they had that year, the Magnum. It never really occurred to me that it might be more than I could handle. At least it didn't occur to me when it really mattered. We were going up the first hill and it seemed to be taking a very long time to reach the top. Not because it was moving slowly, but because it was a really long way up there! When we were about half way up, I happened to glance over and saw that the biggest hill on the Gemini was already well below us. It was then I began to panic and realized that maybe getting on this ride hadn't been such a great idea. But at that point I was strapped in, and there was no way off but to ride it to the end.

I flashed back to that moment repeatedly during my first pregnancy. I am not a big fan of pain. In fact, I'm really a complete wimp when it comes to pain. And while being pregnant agreed with me quite nicely, the thought of how it was all going to end struck fear into my heart. I was going up that big hill for nine (and a half) months, dreading the big drop on the other side! Six months into that pregnancy, I could feel J's head really well in my right upper abdomen. It seemed about as large as the head of the average three or four month old baby. I thought, "This is going to keep growing for another three months and then come out where?! Is this some kind of joke?" Sure enough, he was 99th percentile for head circumference when he was born.

Lately I've been getting that feeling again. This time it's about a much bigger issue. And this time, there's no hope of an epidural. My flashes of panic are about whether or not this whole parenting thing is going to turn out right. Am I really qualified? Am I doing it right? If I don't let them do X am I squelching their personalities? If I do let them do X, am I being too permissive? Where should we school them? Did I scar them for life when I screwed up today? And the list goes on. . .

In Grace Based Parenting, Tim Kimball describes rearing children as trying to put together a puzzle. Except, unlike a regular puzzle, this is one where all the edge pieces have been removed - you have to decide the boundaries are for yourself. Then there are some extra pieces that don't fit thrown in, but you don't know which ones they are. And you may not figure it out until you've wasted a lot of time trying to make them fit your situation. And finally, the cover to the box is lost, so you're not even exactly sure what the final picture is supposed to look like.

I thought that was a fitting description. It's pretty incredible that perhaps the most important responsibility humans have ever been given comes with so few explicit instructions. There are plenty of guiding principles in God's Word, but knowing how to apply those to this situation with this child takes a lot of wisdom. As with everything God does, I know it's best. If it were all spelled out in detail, I wouldn't be driven to Him for wisdom and guidance. If it were all spelled out in detail, there would be no allowance for parents to adapt their approach to fit each child's needs best.

The most frightening thing is that once I know how the final product turned out, it will be too late to go back and change anything. If that's not enough to drive you to your knees in prayer daily, I don't know what is. I may not always know what's best for my children, but I know the One who does. He has the power to guide me and give me the wisdom I lack. And he has infinite grace to overcome my frequent failures.

James 1:5 If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.


H has been picking up new vocabulary words like crazy lately. She has a very high, sweet sounding voice that just melts my heart when she says things like, "Mama" or "Ni-night" or "Hello."

But today, when J yelled, "Come on, you guys!" -- then H turned to me with a big smile on her face and a sparkle in her eye and said, "Guys!" -- it sent a shudder up my spine. I'm not ready to think about that yet.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Break a Leg

J is all into broken legs lately. I'm not sure where it originated, but I think his trip to the ER for an x-ray earlier this summer increased his fascination with the idea.

He also likes to make up songs. One of his song themes is peanut butter. And, interestingly, even in the peanut butter song, someone always ends up breaking a leg, going to the hospital, and getting an x-ray.

Every night before bed I tell him a story. For a long time, it was "The Three Bears." Then for many months it was one of The Little Einsteins episodes. (Yes, I have several episodes I know well enough to quote, music included.) For the last month, however, the request has usually been for "The Quincy Breaks His Leg" story. Now, to the best of my knowledge, there isn't actually an episode where Quincy breaks his leg, but if they're ever looking to add one, they should contact me. I come up with new and creative ways for Quincy to break his leg every night: Tripping down the stairs of the Leaning Tower of Pisa, falling off the Great Wall of China, getting pounced on by a kangaroo in the Australian Outback. . .

So, today we were in a store, and along comes a gentleman in a motorized scooter with his leg in a cast. As he went past J blurted out, "Look, Mommy, that man can't walk!" Loudly enough, of course, for the man and everyone else in the aisle to hear. He's been doing that sort of thing a lot lately: making observations about strangers within their earshot. This one wasn't too embarassing, at least. The worst times have been when he's shouted out, "Mommy, why is that man. . ." when it's actually a heavy-set woman with short hair. Or, "That smells bad!" Or, "Did you see that black baby?"

I decided I'd try to use this one as a little teaching opportunity after tonight's episode of the broken leg story. I tried to explain to him that we shouldn't talk about people in front of them, because it can make them feel bad. He listened, then replied, "But I wasn't in front of him, I was behind him!"

Kids. They're imaginative enough to make up a song about peanut butter and broken legs one minute, then they're so literal the next!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Blueberry Picking

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Growing Up is Hard to Do

J is going to be 4 in less than 3 months. I've decided it's high time he learned to use the potty. He has decided it's not. Having absolutely no experience in this area, but having read a few parenting books in my time, I know it's not a good idea to force the issue. The stories I've heard from people who did indicate that it makes it a miserable experience for all, and usually fails anyway. My goal has been to find a way to make him want to do it.

About 2 years ago, he really seemed to be showing interest. He would try to climb up on the toilet and have a seat. He stood up in the tub so he could watch himself tinkle. In fact, just about anytime he didn't have a diaper on, he would go somewhere to watch himself tinkle. Surely this was a sign of bladder control. I was sure we had a potty-training protege on our hands. So I bought him his very own potty chair. No pressure, just for him to use in his own time. It was even one of those fancy ones that plays a fanfare when the child produces. He was fascinated. For about a week.

We've tried peer pressure. His boy cousins use the potty, and when they're around, J likes to use the potty too. There's nothing like the sight of three little boys standing around one toilet doing synchronized peeing. The problem is, his cousins live 600 miles away, and the good habits he picks up when they're together wear off quickly.

We've tried flattery. The "you're too grown up for diapers" approach has fallen flat.

A few weeks ago I had another idea: I'd appeal to his love for his mother. Yeah, that worked well. I told J I knew what he could get me for my birthday, which is later this month: He could get potty trained! I had just found a killer sale on diapers, which, combined with the $5 in coupons I had, was too good a deal to pass up. I stocked up on a couple hundred. I told him that when these ran out, he could wear big-boy pants and use the potty. He said, "Mommy, I just want to get you a present instead." Well it sounded like a good idea to me. . .

Apparently, he took me seriously. Grandma was watching him as usual last week. He was due for a change, and she asked him to run to his room and grab a diaper for her. Moments later, he came running back, sobbing, "There's only one diaper left! I'm only three years old! I'm just a little kid. I don't want to wear big boy pants yet!"

He assures me that when he's five, he'll use the potty. Good. By then, H should be trained. Maybe she can teach him.