Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A little update

[by Jason]
It's been bugging me that we haven't updated our blog for the past 15 months.  So here's something. Maybe I'll add pictures eventually...

Major events of the past 15 months:

- Complete basement remodel, which started last December with some moldy carpet, lasted a year, and still isn't technically done

- We had a baby! Faye is really cute, and is ... 5 months old now. Just started sucking her thumb a little. She is happy most of the time, loves being tickled & playing peek-a-boo. She is also a bit chubbier than any of our other kids were - this is almost certainly because she's formula-fed, because (we didn't realize until last week) she has "lip tie", which made it almost impossible for her to nurse properly.

- I've become a part-time silicon architect, along with my normal software developer/architect roles. This means I'm actually trying to figure out how to design pieces of complicated processors, instead of just figuring out how to make existing processors work properly. It's really fun.

- Our lovely maroon van got rear-ended badly enough that the insurance company "totaled" it. Now we have a nearly-identical blue van. Neoma & the baby were in church, I & the other kids were on the way to church. We're all fine though. And the new one has a TV.

- Speaking of TV, we just started a media fast, because our kids get too grumpy when we pry them away from TV. In fact, Miriam wouldn't go to sleep last night because she didn't get to watch TV at all today. Sigh. We started yesterday. We'll see how it goes.

- I spoke in church on Sunday, about the first vision of Joseph Smith. I love speaking in church. It's been a long time since I've had the opportunity. There's something about having 1-2 weeks to prepare a 10-minute talk  on a specific scripture, or specific topic, that really helps me draw a lot closer to the Lord, & to really get more involved with the scriptures than I tend to do with my daily studies. I also really love the first vision, and studying it this week really helped me to understand it better, and gain a stronger testimony of it; I also gained a much greater appreciation and understanding of how the Lord loves each of us, and how he helps us through our struggles, as we both rely on him, and as we study things out with diligence.

- Sam and Benji are both at Sunrise elementary this year. I like being able to walk them part of the way to school each day. We try to play some sort of game on the way (today was soccer, though it lasted 2 kicks before someone had to go potty...)

- Neoma is Primary President at church, and I'm one of the ward clerks. We're busy, but we both get the opportunity to do good things to help others...

Well, hopefully we'll start updating this thing a bit more often. Though I've seen a whole lot of blogs that haven't been updated in 3 years, whose last entry says that same thing. :-)

Friday, October 10, 2014

Meet the Mormons (sitting next to you in the theater)

I hate being wrong.  I hate admitting I'm wrong.  It makes me embarrassed.  But I was wrong today. 

Somehow I thought that taking all the kids (7, 5, 3, 1) to a movie together would be a good idea.  I wanted to see Meet the Mormons.  Samuel had a half day at school.  We should do something fun.  Miriam got a good nap.  It's an afternoon showing, so the other patrons will expect kids, right?  What could go wrong?  Isn't this what childhood memories are made of?  My blessed husband humored me, even though he thought it was a bad idea to bring the baby.  He even took a two hour break from work to meet us at the theater. 

It started out great.  We all sat in the back row and enjoyed the previews.  Soon Miriam got a little antsy.  I tried jostling her on my lap and making funny faces which worked for a little while.  Before long I was standing up bouncing her.  We were in the back row, so that wasn't too bad.  But it didn't stop there.  Squirming was soon accompanied by squealing.  Boy number three (Peter) told me in a not-so-quiet voice that he was hungry.  Well, he doesn't really do short statements.  The "I'm hungry" thing was mostly an ongoing dialogue for the next 30 minutes.  

As soon as I left our row to take out the Squirmy Squealer and the Compulsive Talker, little boy number two (Benji) hopped up and announced that nature was calling.   So we all traipsed off to the bathroom.  After watching my not-quite-tall-enough-but-adamantly-independent 3 year old spend two laborious minutes trying to simultaneously push the drinking fountain button firmly, balance on tip toes, and stretch his lips as far out as possible Peter finally got a drink of water.  In the restroom, the necessities were taken care of , including several rounds of counting before we unanimous agreed that there were indeed 14 toilet stalls.  We finally made our way back into the theater.  The 5 year old rejoined his father in the back row and I stayed standing with the Compulsive Talker and the Squirmy Squealer. 

I was determined to enjoy at least some of the movie so I didn't want to leave.  Instead, I stood in the outside aisle and tried to keep my two littles happy and quiet.  They started by exploring the red and green floor lights with fascination, and then progressed to racing to the exit and back.  At some point Peter wandered down the aisle and came back with a mouth full of popcorn.  (Later I witnessed him slip silently down a row and steal a handful of popcorn out of a large bucket belonging to an unsuspecting movie patron.) 

After I finished whisper-grilling Mr. Hungry and Self-sufficient about the contraband popcorn, I turned to see that the Squirmy Squealer had morphed into the Stealthy Sneaker.  She had completely disappeared.  It turns that the Squirmy Squealer doesn't squirm or squeal as long as she had free reign of the room.  I knew she couldn't have gone far.  We were in a closed room.  I walked up to the front, looking down every row.  Nothing.  I tried to be nonchalant and unobtrusive as I scanned the room with my mama bear eagle eyes.  When I finally spotted her, she had made a complete lap around the perimeter of the room, climbed the stairs to the back row and was making her way from the far side  toward Daddy again.  She stopped to charm some people sitting in her way and then turned back.  She was so short and cute, that she could toddle all over the place without disturbing people.  I, on the other hand, was not so short or cute and tried my hardest not to walk in front of the other movie goers. 

I finally abandoned hope of finishing the film when Peter started climbing over the backs of the  empty front row seats as if they were playground equipment.  I gathered the Vaulting Gymnast and the Stealthy Sneaker and made a hasty exit. 

It turns out that bringing an active 3 year old and 1 year old to the movie theater isn't a good idea after all.  I was wrong.  But this afternoon wasn't a complete loss.  Jason enjoyed the movie and I really liked the portion that I saw.  The money we paid for the overpriced tickets sent a message to the theater that we appreciate good films being shown at their establishment.  Jason pointed out that all profits from the film are being donated to the Red Cross.  And I guess I even made some memories, just not quite the warm fuzzy ones I had in mind. 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Little Entrepreneur

I found cherries for cheap, but I had to buy them by the box.  Apparently 20 lb is more than we can eat, so I let Samuel buy some from me to sell to our neighbors.  I helped him make a box out of a paper plate.  He wrote on it and used the kitchen scale to weigh out 1 lb.  He paid me $1.50 per pound (the same amount I paid for them) and sold them for $3.00 per pound. 

I was so proud of him.  I've struggled with how to help my kids earn money.  Most of the jobs I let them do around the house are just me paying them gratuitously for a mediocre job, because that's the best they can do.  I was happy with this job because it benefitted me (I didn't know what I was going to do with all those cherries), it was something he could do (mostly) on his own, it was a quality product at a good value (cheaper than the store or even the roadside stands), and he got a 200% return on his investment.

Overall Samuel netted $6.  That's a profitable afternoon when you're 7 years old!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Joys and Dangers of an Indoor Slide

At 9 months old, Miriam has already discovered the joys of our indoor slide.  I usually have one of her older brothers catch her at the bottom, but she's gotten pretty good at stopping herself.  We decided to document her fun when something unexpected happened (don't you hate the suspense-filled non-description?)

In case you are concerned - she was fine and stopped crying as soon as I picked her up.

Friday, May 9, 2014

It wasn't jam

The back of my hand felt wet when I was fixing lunch.  Figuring it was jam I absent mindedly licked it.  It wasn't jam.  It was slimy and salty.  It was baby snot.  It's a good thing this girl is so cute...

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Finger Playground

Benji came into our room early this morning, arranged these puzzle blocks on the dresser and announced, "I made this new finger painground for ya!" (painground=playground).  "It is only for grown up fingers. Do your fingers want to play on it?"

He's got quite the creative mind.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Finding their own solution

It was a scene that had probably played out many times before - in many houses, in many centuries:  Three boys, two blankets, one couch, and a whole lot of kicking, shoving, crying, and exclamations of, "I was here first!" 

I tried my usual mom-tactics:

"If you don't have enough room, you can move to the other couch."

"Why don't you go get your red blanket off your bed (instead of stealing your brother's blanket)?"

and my all time favorite,
"Which one of you is going to be the peacemaker?"

Don't laugh at that last one.  It works sometimes... but not today.  In a moment of parenting genius I tried something different:

"I'm going to count to thirty.  You need to find a solution that you will all be happy about, or you will all have to get off the couch." 

And then like magic, it worked.  I didn't even have to get out of my chair.  By the time I finished counting they were helping one another build this:

A classic couch nest.  It was a much better solution that I could have come up with.  No more fighting.  Everyone was happy.  Instead kicking, shoving, and crying there was cooperation, laughter, and brotherly love.  The boys even invited me to join them. 
It makes me think of the comment by Joseph Smith.  When asked how he led such large group of people he said, "I teach them correct principles and they govern themselves" (source).  It also brings to mind one of my father's favorite scriptures about how we should not need to be commanded in all things (source). I think I need to let them find their own solutions more often. 
PS: A special shout out to the most amazing college roommates in the world who used to build couch nests like this with me when we had girls night in.  I love you, Cishams!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Reverence is more than just quietly sitting, but we'll take that for now.

Jason and I decided recently that it was time to address the lack of reverence in our home.  With three very active boys and one cute, sweet pea of a rolling baby, our house is only quiet when they're all asleep.  In general I figure this comes with the territory of raising four small children.  Often I ignore the din and the leeches on my legs, occasionally I encourage it by joining in a rousing game of monster tag, but there are times that quiet attention is needed.  I want my children to know God, and most often He speaks quietly.  We all need to take time to be still enough to feel and hear our Heavenly Father.  Jason and I have tried to create those teaching moments by gathering to read scriptures and pray together as a family each day, and by setting aside Monday nights for Family Home Evenings, where we teach our children the gospel of Jesus Christ and sing and play together. 

The problem is that these quiet teaching moments are almost guaranteed to deteriorate into fidgets and wiggles and dancing and wrestling and annoying (and sometimes hitting).  The constant admonitions to "Sit still," "Be quiet," "Stop touching your brother!" and "If you don't put that book down you'll lose it," were just not cutting it. 

We needed some motivation.  Enter inspiration.  After praying for guidance in how to teach our children reverence, I got the idea of making a chart.  It is basically family goal setting with a prize. 

The rules are spelled out in simple words and pictures: 
1. Sit still.
2. Listen quietly.
3. Hands/feet to yourself. 

Each time we have family prayer, scripture time, home evening lesson, home teaching lesson, or sacrament meeting they can earn a mark (or fraction of a mark).  When the chart is full (we figured it would take about two weeks) we'll all go to the deluxe Snohomish Aquatics Center we recently heard about.

So far it is working well.  They've earned 8 marks in 5 days.  A little reminder about the chart is usually enough to get everyone kneeling for prayer.  Now we'll just see if the lesson sticks after we finish the chart.

(I let the kids help color the poster - Isn't it great?)

Sunday, February 16, 2014

So that's where his clothes are going!

The other day I sent Peter and Benji into their room to get dressed and overheard, "Peter!  You can where this! Hahahaha." 
They came out laughing with both of them wearing Benji's clothes. 

I guess figured out why Benji has been running out of clean clothes so quickly.  Benji and Peter both think it is HILARIOUS for Peter to where Benji's clothes.  I can't really get mad at them because, after all, they're SHARING!  This day Peter is even wearing his older brother's shoes.  Those silly boys.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy Birthday, Love Dad

This morning our math-loving boy calculated how many seconds until his birthday party.  He doesn't know multiplication yet, so it was a lot of addition.  This is the first page where he figured out that
6 days = 144 hours = 504,000 seconds. 
 He finished on another paper and came up with a grand total of 519,600 seconds.  Sounds like a fun diversion, huh?  Afterward he lamented that the exact number of seconds kept changing.  He wished aloud that he had something that would count down to his birthday party.  Well, when your dad is Jason that is entirely possible. 

Some dads build their kids cardboard castles for their birthdays.  The dad in our family built his son a count down timer for his birthday.  And Samuel loves it. He sits in front of the computer mesmerized as it counts down the seconds to the big (or not so big) event.
In other exciting news, Samuel is about 8 wiggles away from losing his first tooth.  He was torn between wanting it to come out on his birthday and wanting it to come out the day before his birthday (today) so that he gets money (from the tooth fairy) on his birthday.  By the way - How much does the tooth fairy pay these days?

Happy 7th birthday, Sam!