17 December 2014

Merry Christmas

It's December.  Christmas Eve is a week away, and I feel like I should write something eloquent about The True Meaning of Christmas.  I've got nothing.  I believe that, through the miracle in Gethsemane, a tiny baby in Bethlehem changed the world.  Other than that, I've no poignant or memorable comments to make.  Being the long winded redhead that I am, I won't let that stop me from writing a Christmas post.

We are doing our best to have a Christ centered Christmas around here.  We've got the nativities up (my kids call them activities).  I'm even doing a halfway decent job of not getting upset when the kids decide the breakable ones ought to be relocated.  

Although I enjoy writing, I feel like I find Christ in Christmas best through music.  We've had a lot of that around here.  We've even added an instrument.  

We took our kids to see A Christmas Carol, because what preschooler doesn't love a good stage adaptation of a Charles Dickens classic?  I know it doesn't mention Christ, but I think it fits with the True Meaning of Christmas.  The Texan tried to explain it to them first.  We thought that would help them enjoy it a little bit more.  As we were taking our seats my oldest little redhead told me we would see three ghosts.  "The ghost of Christmas Yesterday, Christmas Today, and Christmas Tomorrow."  We forgot to tell them about Jacob Marley.  And they can count.  Well, the baby can't count yet, but the other two can.  They were ready to leave after the ghost of Christmas Present because that was three ghosts.  I'm glad they are smart.  I'm glad they were paying attention.  I'm kind of tired of being corrected by a three year old.  In a few short months I'll have the pleasure of being corrected by a four year old.  

I don't feel like Christmas is a dichotomy of either Christian or heathen, so we are also having a great time with secular Christmas.  We decorated the tree, hung stockings, made Christmas cookies, and are reading lots of books about Santa. 

On an unrelated note, everyone around here seems to love a good parenting gone awry story.  Today I was in the mood for a new facebook status, and I was starting to smell like spit-up.  I decided to take a shower even though the kids were awake and see what kind of entertaining havoc they could wreak in a few minutes of unsupervised time.

The little rascals didn't do ANYTHING.  No climbing to reach forbidden objects, no adventures in the pantry, no trying to put lotion on the baby.  As far as I can tell, they quietly behaved themselves the entire time.  The baby even fell asleep.

And once again I have been bested by a toddler and a preschooler.

13 November 2014

Foiled Again

I tend to overthink parenting.  I don't really impose excessive mom guilt or stress on myself, but I do often make thoroughly thoughtful decisions about decidedly trivial things.  For example: I never sing the end of Five Little Ducks with my kids because I don't want to send the message that it is completely acceptable or expected that they ignore me but obey their dad.  Deep down I know this is ludicrous.  I grew up singing the song in its entirety, and it had absolutely no impact on me.  I was equally defiant and disobedient to both of my parents.  Nevertheless, on the rare occasion that I take a shower without a child banging on the door, I use the quiet moments to contemplate my parenting.

I know that the extent of my deliberations are mostly unreasonable.  And, quite honestly, I don't expect any normal person to actually care about whatever subject is occupying my mind at the moment.  Despite the amount of mental energy I expend, I realize that most of these decisions are really quite insignificant.  If I hear other people sing Five Little Ducks, I don't sit and think to myself that they are inadvertently undermining their authority with their children.  If people sing it to my kids, I will lose absolutely no sleep over it. Unless I already don't like them.  Then I am likely to assume that their song choice is a subtle ploy to ruin my life and sabotage all future generations of my posterity.  I have no use for such subterfuge, and will respond by plotting their destruction.  However, I am a redhead and a former high school teacher.  My destruction plotting skills are well honed and quite efficient.  My sleep hours will remain unaffected.

If any aspect of parenting lends itself to overthinking it is potty training.  And since I made no attempt at potty training until well after my first little redhead turned three, I had a few years to thoroughly analyze how every part of my potty training strategy might influence my children's future earning potential, social well being, and ultimate life satisfaction.

After much reflection, I decided that, for a myriad of reasons, I would not emphasize or reward using the toilet.  Instead, what I focused on and praised was dry and clean underwear.  It semmed to work.  The whole potty training experience was relatively short and stress free.  He got the hang of it pretty quickly and has had only a few accidents in the last several months.  So I counted it a parenting win.

Then, the other day I asked my oldest little redhead to get dressed.  I reminded him to put on clean underwear.  "But Mama, I don't need to. I just kept my underwear dry and clean all night like I am supposed to."  And once again, hours of my best intellectual concentration was completely dismantled in fourteen seconds by a preschooler.

22 September 2014


You know those "friends" you have.  The ones who haven't talked to you in years, and suddenly they invite you over for dinner.  You think to yourself how nice it will be to see how they are doing and what they have been up to.  Then you get there and realize that by "Why don't you come over for dinner?" what they meant was, "I have a sales pitch I'd like you to listen to."

Some don't even go through the pretense of offering a meal.  These are the friends you've hidden from your Facebook news feed because every post is about MaryKay.  Often these friends even ask you to throw the party and host them.

And then there are the people that add you on Facebook a week before they ask you how many Girl Scout cookies you are going to buy.  They ignore you for the rest of the year.  They probably know nothing about you.  But when it's Girl Scout cookie season suddenly they get all chummy.

It's tacky and it's annoying.  A very smart man once told me (really told someone else while I was listening) when you sell only to your friends, what you are actually doing is begging.

Today, I am that friend.  September happens to be National Sewing month and Shameless Promotion month.  It's true.  I looked it up on a highly credible website that specializes in obscure observances.  So I decided to celebrate by announcing my new Etsy shop.  I much prefer to use this space for trivial drivel, so this is the one and only time I will mention it.

My shop is thebestbibs.etsy.com. I make awesome full coverage bibs.  If you know someone who has a child in the early stages of self feeding, this is the bib for them.  Actually, it's a great bib for all stages of self feeding.  Rather than just keeping a shirt clean, it will protect an entire adorable ensemble from collar to socks.  I would like to get some reviews posted on my page, so I'm having a little promotion.  A "grand opening sale" of sorts.  September is also National Coupon month (for real.  It's National Piano month too, but I can't really find a way to make that relevant) The coupon code Wearefriends will get you a bib plus shipping for a total of $8.

And, in true grand opening promotional type fashion, this code will only work for my next three sales.  So, you know, don't wait, hurry in, buy now, blah blah blah...

If you buy one now you can have it in time to celebrate National Messy Eating month (which I don't think is a real thing, but I want make it one.)

27 April 2014

Kindness: Part 5

I realize that most of my posts about kindness involve grocery shopping.  Perhaps something about the brightly lighted displays and fresh flowers of a grocery store puts people in a cheerful, cooperative, and helpful mood.  Or maybe it's just that most of my interaction with the outside world happens at grocery stores.  Also, it is likely that a grocery shopping trip is the time when a very pregnant mother of two young children appears to need the most help.  But, whatever the reason, I find people to be very kind when I am grocery shopping.

This week I had a very short shopping list, so we made it through the store pretty quickly.  The store wasn't very busy, but there was only one cashier, so the line was quite long.  When it was our turn to check out, my three year old decided to help load the groceries onto the conveyor belt.  He grabbed a gallon of milk and dropped it.  The carton broke and milk exploded everywhere.  Everyone had to move out of line so that the mess could be cleaned up.  After the milk had been mopped the cashier rang up my groceries.  Just as she announced my total someone pushed his way to the front of the line and said, "Wait, I got you another gallon of milk."  He had been behind me in line, and when he saw the mess he ran to the back of the store to replace the exploded gallon.

On an unrelated note, we have survived our first potty training experience at our house.  Survive is too dramatic a word.  The whole process was remarkably uneventful.  It did prompt some rather hilarious conversations about anatomy.  But I try to remember that someday my children will grow up and be old enough to be embarrassed.  So, while they are fabulous stories that would make you laugh, I have decided that they probably ought not be broadcast in an online venue.  Just know that life has been pretty funny around here lately.

Kindness: Parts Previous

07 April 2014

Treasure Hunt

My kids love watching Jake and the Neverland Pirates.  The show isn't exactly a pinnacle of achievement in children's television, but their are worse options.  Actually, despite my goal to turn my children into nerds, I've decided that I'm opposed to educational TV programming.  But that is a topic for another day.  We stumbled across Jake on Netflix, and a few weeks ago when I had the flu I let him and his "merry crew of Neverland pirates" babysit my kids.  It is almost disturbing how much of the show they can quote.  They really don't get to watch it that often, but my little boy can pretty much quote verbatim every episode he has seen.  His little sister can't recreate the episodes, but she knows all of the tag lines.  She likes to say "Aw coconuts," and tries to count gold doubloons.  I'm pretty sure that the other day she was saying "Jolly Roger," but her speech isn't always completely clear, so I could be wrong.

This weekend we made an awesome hot wheels track in the kitchen.  It started on the refrigerator, went over the counters, and crossed a few chairs.  Due to my lack of foresight, the track ended on the floor right in front of the stove.  It took a while to set up, and the kids were so excited.  I even tried to heighten the suspense by making them pick the perfect car for the inaugural run and count backwards from 10 before letting it go.  They were delighted and thrilled for about 30 seconds.  Then the car reached the end of the track and kept rolling right under the stove.  I think they both wondered why I had made them work so hard to lose their favorite car.

It was a disaster until I remembered that they love the Neverland pirates.  I told them we were going on a treasure hunt to find their car.  We tried several methods of extraction, but finally I gave up and just moved the stove.  My little girl exclaimed "treasure!" and picked up an entirely different car.  The kids also found a purple spoon, a yellow magnet, tons of cereal, and the car we were originally looking for.  Now they want to know if they can go on a treasure hunt under the dishwasher.

23 March 2014

There is probably no hope for you to be normal if your mom used to be a History teacher.

I have finally admitted this week that it is one of the deep desires of my heart for my children to grow up to be nerds.  There is an important distinction between nerdiness and intelligence.  I'm aiming for nerdiness.  I don't want my kids to be so smart that school is boring and feels pointless to them.  I don't want them to have unnaturally high IQs that cause social convention to completely elude them.  It would be nice if they were just slightly smarter than average.  Just smart enough to get a scholarship.  That would be the perfect amount of intelligence.

Wherever my kids fall on the IQ scale, I do hope that they will enjoy some intellectual pursuits.  I want them to enjoy learning new things.  I want them to be curious about how things work and then figure it out.  I hope that they grow up to enjoy libraries and museums.  I hope they will read frequently.  I want them to have a decent knowledge of the classics and be able to understand an allusion to Greek mythology.  If they would occasionally make their own references that would be even better.  At the very least I hope that they will learn to differentiate among elusion, allusion, and illusion.

I want them to watch the news and know where Crimea is.  Or if they don't know, I want them to care enough to find out.  I hope that they never vote in a presidential election only to be surprised to find out that the popular vote does not determine the next executive of our country.  I hope that they have musical proclivities and know the difference between tonic and dominant tones.  I would love it if they could appreciate the artistry of a well executed key change.

My desire to turn my kids into nerds hit a high point this week.  I enjoy reading to my kids.  They have favorite stories that they sometimes request, but I noticed that often they don't care what I'm reading to them.  They just like to have some time to sit in my lap and hear my voice.  If there are pictures involved they will sit quietly for a very long time.  This observation reminded me of a book that I used when I was teaching high school.  I used to check it out of the library every year when it was time to teach the American Revolution.  I decided that I must own this book and start frequently reading it to my children.  Because, if they don't care what I'm reading to them, it might as well be the Declaration of Independence.  

The book is out of print, but I tracked down a copy.  It is the actual text of the Declaration of Independence, and each phrase is illustrated.  My book arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I am unreasonably excited about it.  The day it arrived I saw my three year old pull it off the shelf and start flipping though the pages.  My inner History teacher is overjoyed.

16 March 2014


We were out of town this week, so I had a break from my usual Sunday assignment of teaching the 9 year old Sunday school class.  Instead, I spent all of church with adults.  It was extremely boring.  One benefit of being with the children is that there is a lot more music involved.  Another is that kids are awesome and entertaining.  Teaching on Sundays reminds me of a lot of the things I enjoyed about my full time teaching days.  This year we are studying the Old Testament, and the kids have plenty of random and unexpected things to say that make me smile.

Lesson about the creation:
"I don't know why Heavenly Father had to rest on the seventh day.  Jesus did all the work."

Lesson on Adam and Eve:
While I was trying to explain what it means to be created in the image of God
"Does that mean that He has freckles like me?"

Lesson on Noah:
"Wait, was this before the Empire State Building was built?"
"It says that Noah was 600 years old when the flood started, but that can't be true.  It's not possible to live that long.  He must have eaten only broccoli and eggs."

09 March 2014

The Snake Story

During the summer after my first year of college I worked in the Emergency Room.  If I were trying to have a controversial, socially relevant, or In any way serious blog this would be a post about how it is possible to get a degree without student loans.  Instead my goal is to have a largely frivolous blog.  For the purposes of this post the point of bringing up the job is that strange things happen in the Emergency Room.

My job was not medically related at all.  I was the annoying person who insisted on seeing insurance information and identification.  It was also my job to ask parents to sign a mountain of paperwork before their child's broken arm could be set.  However, the ER staff was aware that I was also completing my EMT training, and they were very supportive.  I was occasionally invited back from the registration desk to see what was going on.  If there was anything particularly interesting happening I usually got to be a part of it.  The doctors and nurses were always happy to answer any of my questions.  I learned a lot.  Unfortunately, the most exciting stuff always seemed to happen on my day off.

The best Emergency Room story I have is one that I did not participate in at all.  A member of my EMT class was part of the crew that brought the woman in, and she was treated at the hospital where I worked.  I heard multiple times about all the excitement that I missed.  I am fully aware that it is entirely possible that most of the story is exaggerated or fabricated, but it is such a great story that I have decided to retell it here.

A woman (whose name I never knew.  Confidentiality laws and all that...) had a very large pet snake.  When she opened the cage to feed it, the snake grabbed both the food being offered and the woman's hand.  I dislike snakes and know very little about them.  I do know two things: a snake's teeth are angled toward the back of the mouth, and snakes apparently have no gag reflex.  These two things meant that this woman's hand was very stuck inside her pet.  The more she tried to pull her hand out, the further the teeth dug into her.  She used her free hand to call 911.

Somewhere between the end of the emergency call, but before the ambulance arrived, she thought that it would be a good idea to put her free hand into the snake's cage to try to pull her first hand out.  By the time paramedics arrived both hands were stuck inside the snake.  The first responder to arrive looked at her, swore, and said "I don't do snakes."  Then he walked out.  Fortunately for the woman, he was part of a larger group; some of whom were willing to deal with snakes.

I have no idea what exactly they did.  I do know that she was very concerned that they might hurt the snake that was eating her.  I also know that by the time she arrived in the emergency room her hands were no longer inside a snake.

02 March 2014

Good Morning

I have reached the point in pregnancy where reasonable sleep patterns are unattainable.  At 2 in the morning when the house is dark and quiet and the circadian rhythm of a normal human being would dictate sleep, I instead find myself experiencing insomnia induced by heartburn, leg cramps, contractions, and general pregnancy discomfort.  At 2 in the afternoon when my kids want to run, shout, play, and generally be toddlers, I can barely keep my eyes open.  I find that I get my best sleep starting around 6:00 in the morning.  My kids like to wake up around 7:30.  I usually hear them wake up, and then roll over and go back to sleep until they come find me and ask for breakfast.

Surprisingly, my kids are extremely well behaved during their unsupervised morning play time.  They play for over an hour without causing any mayhem.  Their favorite morning toys are books, puzzles, and cars.  They never climb on anything, color on anything, or get into anything that they shouldn't.  Then they eat breakfast and chaos ensues.  Breakfast ruins my children.  I've considered skipping the meal altogether, but I think starving your children counts as neglect, or abuse, or at least cause for severe judgement from other moms.

When the kids are tired of being well behaved and self sufficient, they come wake me up and ask for breakfast.  The first thing my little boy says to me is always funny.  Here are a few of my favorites:

"The monsters are trying to get into the scare program."

"I need to make my tummy feel better with M&Ms"

"Remember when I got in the big huge football bathtub?"

"My sister is not in her bed and I need to draw you a beautiful picture."

"Can you read the cupcake to me?"

Sundays are less fun because we have church early and I usually have to wake my kids up.  They aren't as entertaining when they are groggy.  This morning the little redhead didn't say anything to me until we were in the car and almost at church.  Then he said, "Mama, I just told Daddy for you to stop waking me up."

I agree with him.  Things are much more fun when he is the one that wakes me up.

23 February 2014

Kindness: Part 4

Proving that I am not the only person in the world who occasionally encounters a kind stranger, today's post comes from another redhead from Colorado and former roommate of mine.  Technically I don't think we ever had the same address, but some people just count as roommates no matter where they live.

From Sarah:
Today I am grateful for Ted Talks and kind hearted souls. Yesterday I made an attempt to get from my severely delayed flight to a connecting flight within 30 minutes- crossing through customs at immigration. I asked a handful of fellow travelers if they wouldn't mind me cutting in line, and when one kind soul (Max) responded with a look of empathy I burst into tears. He was incredibly encouraging and then processed to sprint with me helping me to navigate through JFK to terminal 2. In a moment of rest he mentioned he had been traveling for 48 hours and was stranded in Portugal because a passenger had a heart attack. He watched an inflight Ted Talk (incidentally I did too) which shows the brain's response to stress is to reach out to others. So in his exhaustion he decided to help me. I arrived at the gate three minutes after the door to the plane closed, but I'll never forget Max, more stressed than me seeing an opportunity to help another human soul.

16 February 2014

Kindness: Part 3

Most of the time I enjoy grocery shopping with my kids.  I don't enjoy grocery shopping with tired and cranky children.  But if I plan well, time things right, and don't try to hurry, we can generally have a good time at the store together.  We have a good time smelling all the flowers and looking at the neatly piled heads of lettuce and picking the largest bunch of bananas we can find.  We always buy bananas.  I don't like bananas at all.  I am decidedly outvoted.  I haven't eaten a banana in years, but I have purchased dozens weekly since my oldest first started eating solid food.

When we just need eggs and milk (and bananas) we shop at Aldi.  It's kind of a fun little store.  And it makes me smile that when we get to the parking lot my little redhead knows exactly where we are.  "Mama, we are going to buy milk and eggs!"  One of my favorite things about shopping at Aldi is that the shopping carts have two seats in the front.  It is so convenient to have my kids sitting next to each other sharing a package of fruit snacks.  Actually, the shopping carts are pretty much the entire reason that I shop there.  If they had a bigger selection I wouldn't ever shop anywhere else.  If any other grocery store in my area ever decides to offer double seated carts I will become a loyal costumer.

Aldi has one of those fancy cart contraptions near the entrance to the store where you pay a quarter to get a cart.  When you return the cart you get a quarter back.  The last time we shopped at Aldi we parked kind of far away.  A gentleman parked sort of near me had just returned his cart.  He came back to his car and saw me with a child in each arm.  Instead of getting in his car and driving off, he went back to the front of the store and got a cart for me.  He met me in the parking lot and patiently held the cart to make sure it wouldn't roll down the hill while I loaded both kids.  He gave them each a high five and wished us a good day.

09 February 2014

Social Media

I like it when people post articles on facebook.  It gives me something interesting to look at that only takes about five minutes to read.  And five minutes is currently the average increment between crises at my house, so the timing is perfect.  Social media has certainly given more people a platform to voice opinions.  Stay at home moms that used to only talk to other moms at the park can now pontificate to a much wider audience.  And while they can reach more people, I'm not sure they are able to produce more results.  Based on the very limited sample that is my own personal experience, I conclude that no one has ever been persuaded by anything they read on facebook.  In the last week I have responded to posted articles in the following ways.

Article warning that eating sugar causes impending death:  I was thoroughly unconvinced.  Instead of persuading me to avoid sugar, this article made me crave dessert.  I made chocolate cupcakes and oatmeal cookies.  I thoroughly enjoyed consuming both.  

Article asking people to boycott watching the Olympics due to Russia's poor treatment of stray dogs: I had completely forgotten that the Olympics were starting this week.  I was glad for the reminder, and checked to make sure I would be recording the opening ceremony.  Side note- I am not a fan of animal cruelty.  Of all the problems in Russia worthy of activist attention, I was surprised that treatment of stray dogs is what ended up in my news feed.

Yet another article declaring that vaccinating children is sentencing them to autism:  I remembered that my little boy had a birthday last week.  I made an appointment for his next round of immunizations.  

An article about how only worthless, heartless parents would ever allow their kids to consume the atrocity that is fast food.  Clearly foisting chicken nuggets upon innocent children is akin to force feeding them arsenic:  My kids ate at Chic-fil-a because cold weather has kept them inside all week, and Chic-fil-a has a slide.   Also, the kids love the little applesauce pouches they get, and I like that someone who is not me sweeps the mess on the floor.  I think it's a win for everyone.

26 January 2014


We have moved six times in the last five years.  I have been pregnant during all but one of those moves.  If you are looking at my family and thinking that those numbers don't quite add up, it's because we crammed three of those moves into one pregnancy.  We are efficient like that.  Prior to getting married I was also quite transient.  In the last thirteen years I have had seventeen different addresses.  (And I only count my mission as one address even though I lived in several different places.)  I have learned a few things about relocating.  

1.  No matter how well I try to plan and organize, I will not be able to find my shower curtain upon arrival at the new address.  Whatever suitcase or box that I carefully packed and clearly labeled will somehow get lost in the shuffle.  It will stubbornly refuse to resurface until several days after the move.  I have decided that it is much more efficient to just plan on buying a new one.  In our most recent move, all of my shower curtains were easily located within the first few hours of unpacking.  This stroke of good luck was unfortunately wasted because the shower in our new house has a glass door.   

2.  Mail forwarding is kind of amazing.  The post office says that they will forward mail to the new address for a year.  I have forwarded my mail multiple times in a year, and somehow everything eventually finds it's way to my current mailbox.  I find that impressive.  

3.  Packing will always take more time, more boxes, and more tape than I anticipated.  I know this.  I try to make plans accordingly.  Somehow, despite the fact that I have moved all of the exact same stuff only a few months previous, I have absolutely no ability to accurately estimate my packaging needs.  

4.  Hot water is luxury of the industrialized world that I simply cannot survive without.  I don't much care if my lights turn on when I first move into a new place, but if my curtainless shower is not warm I am likely to be very cranky.  

19 January 2014


My kids almost died this week.  They were blissfully unaware of their near demise, but they almost died.

We have a backyard and a sandbox.  Both are awesome.  My carpet desperately needed to be vacuumed.  The kids were playing some charming combination of peek-a-boo and hide and seek in their closet, so I left them to it and went to work.  I finished the upstairs and unplugged the vacuum to take it downstairs.  Once I turned the vacuum off I noticed that the house was suspiciously silent.  For a brief moment I wondered if my kids had fallen asleep.  It was almost nap time.  I went to check.

I was hoping to find them asleep and expecting to find them in the middle of some adorable, innocent, and mostly harmless mess.  Perhaps lotion spread across a mirror, or diaper cream painting the bathroom counter, or brown sugar ground into the dining room carpet, or applesauce jars poured out on the pantry floor, or silverware propping the freezer open, or laundry dumped into the bathtub, or toilet paper strewn up and down the stairs, or permanent marker artwork on the kitchen cabinets, or the garden hose dragged in from the back yard in an attempt to fill the fish tank.  Instead, I found them in the attic buried in insulation.

I like to think that I'm not a panicking parent.  I have seen my little boy try to eat pieces of a broken glass jar, watched my little girl jump off the top of the tall slide at the park, scooped my two year old out of a pile of fire ants, and seen my toddler knock one of her front teeth completely out of her mouth.  I have cleaned flooded bathrooms and flooded basements, and I have taken both kids to the emergency room to have their stomachs pumped when they got into the medicine cabinet.  I feel like I have taken each of these events in stride and handled them with poise and equanimity.  And no one else was really around to tell me otherwise, so I continue to believe it.

This time, however, I completely panicked.  My heart rate went through the roof, my palms started sweating, and I started to get a little dizzy.  I was simultaneously baffled that they had even gotten up there in the first place and horrified that they were going to crash through the ceiling while I stood and watched.  I wanted to shout "Get out of there right now!" but I also wanted to order "Nobody move!"  I don't know what actually came out of my mouth.  I scooped them up, brushed them off, and sent them to bed for a nap.  I also developed an irrational fear of vacuuming.

I decided that the best solution was to avoid vacuuming anything, ever, for the rest of my life.  My little redhead thought this was a bad idea.  Apparently a proponent of the "get back on the horse" theory, he dropped a glass on the tile floor.  It exploded sending slivers of glass shrapnel all over the tile and adjacent carpet.  I put shoes on everyone, swept the tile, and avoided vacuuming.  For about 24 hours we had the thorny carpet of death.  Finally I caved.  Because food is the thing that keeps their attention the longest I set my kids at the table with a snack and got out the vacuum.

When I finished vacuuming the family room I decided to go ahead and vacuum the hall.  When I finished vacuuming the hall I briefly considered vacuuming my bedroom.  I turned off the vacuum for a moment and heard an eerie silence.  Frustrated and worried I thought "Seriously, they've been out of my sight for less than a minute," and went to investigate.

But instead of finding chaos I found this:

And this:

And while peace and order were briefly restored to the universe, I still fully intend to never again vacuum
anything, ever, for the rest of my life.  

13 January 2014

Kindness: Part 2

I play the organ at church once a month.  Usually the easiest time to practice is after the kids are sleeping.  Occasionally it occurs to me that I am all by myself in a large, dark, empty building.  The church building is in a safe area, I never go very late, and I never feel unsafe.  If I did feel unsafe I would stop going by myself.  Still, once in a while, I wonder if it's the smartest thing in the world.

Last week while I was practicing an gentleman came in and told me he and some friends were on their way in to play some basketball.  He said, "I came in to tell you first.  We just didn't want you to be scared."  I thought that was very considerate of him.  I'm not sure that hearing some people playing basketball in the gym would have been more frightening than a stranger showing up in the chapel to talk to me, but I appreciated the gesture anyway.

Kindness: Part 1

05 January 2014

Parenting and Holidays

Early in October I took the kids to a pumpkin patch.  It was pretty awesome, and we all had a great time, until the two year old got lost.  He saw something that looked interesting, and took off running.  For the next twenty minutes I had no clue where he was.  I didn't completely panic, but when it took me more than three minutes to find him I did briefly recall every awful child abduction story I have ever heard.  And probably a few that I haven't actually heard, but imagined.  As I pressed through the crowds searching for my little redhead a few things occurred to me.  First, it was unwise to put him in an orange shirt.  He was dressed exactly the same as every other child within a five mile radius.  Second, I have not taught him what to do when he gets lost.

I found him at the exit of the straw maze.  He can't read, so the sign that said "for children 8 and over" didn't deter him.  He didn't even realize that he was lost, and I guess he's pretty good at mazes.  Still, I started to teach him some things about personal safety.  And all was well until Halloween.  Our church had a trunk-or-treat event in the parking lot.  I think this type of thing is perfect for the age of my kids.  They still get to dress up and beg for candy, but the whole ordeal is early, short, and safe.  We were going to be home in time for dinner.  I was super excited about it.  And then I heard myself essentially say to my kids, "See that strange man over there that you have never met before.  Yes, the one wearing a hat and a mask.  Walk right up to his open car and take that piece of candy he is dangling in front of you."  I felt more than a little hypocritical.

With the large number of holidays crammed into the subsequent months, my duplicitous parenting has repeated itself with regularity.

Thanksgiving wasn't too bad, but I certainly didn't reinforce any healthy eating habits.

At Christmas I told my kids about a stranger who spies on them throughout the year, and knows everything they have been doing.  I told them that he watches carefully for them to fall asleep and then sneaks into our house in the middle of the night.  And I told them to be very excited about it.

Until last week we lived in an apartment, and I spent much of my time trying to teach my kids to be courteous in close quarters.  We talked about using inside voices, and not shouting because the neighbors don't need to hear us.  Then on New Year's I again tossed all of my careful tutelage out the window and asked my kids to stay up late for the purpose of making as much noise as possible at an hour when most sane people are trying to sleep.

Last Independence day we went to a parade.  I asked my little boy to run into the street to pick a piece of candy up off the ground so that he could put it in his mouth.  Later that night I gave him a burning stick and told him to wave it around.

I think the term "holiday" can be correctly translated as "a break from responsible parenting."