Abraham, Rachel, Soren and Liam. Our life together in Smalltown, Idaho.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Our Baby of Perpetual Infancy





Liam has decided that he wants to be a little tiny baby forever. At nine months, he still needs to be walked around when he's unhappy; he still breastfeeds almost exclusively (not my idea, I promise you); he has shown no interested in crawling. He cried hysterically when his daddy tried to get him to drink out of a sippy cup last week. And he sprouted a fourth tooth but seems to have sucked it back in. He is our twenty-five pound newborn. Funny kiddo.

Soren Update

In a few weeks, my little boy will be three years old. And that actually seems about right. He's really matured during the past couple of months. He seems happier, more regulated. He's learning about sharing and has begun going to his room to calm down when he gets too upset. His language skills have been expanding at an exponential rate. He has been a true joy to be around (most of the time.)

Some cute things from the past month or so:

Soren is my big kitchen helper. If I'm doing anything in the kitchen, he'll immediately run grab his Lightening McQueen chair and drag it into the kitchen so he can participate. He'll scramble eggs, cut up cheese, knead dough, measure ingredients, stir soup. You name it, he'll do it.

This was our second attempt at making Thanksgiving rolls. The first batch was ruined when I turned my back for a minute and Soren dumped the entire container of yeast into the dough.

Sometimes my Bubba gets a little innovative in the kitchen. For example, when he was helping me make the rolls, he built things out of the dough: walls and snakes and things. When we finished with that, I told him that the dough needed to have a nap while it raised. So we covered it up with a towel and put it on the island shelf. Then he insisted that we build a door out of blocks so that it would be quiet enough for the dough to get some decent rest. (The cheesy grin is for the benefit of the camera. I used to do that exact smile for pictures too.)

Another innovation: we were making cookies the other evening. We pulled the first batch out of the oven and I told Soren we could eat some after they had cooled down. Upon hearing this, he immediately darted out of the kitchen and down the hall. I could hear him rooting around in the bathroom and then he came back with his blow-dryer, proclaiming that he had brought it in to cool down the cookies. One of his nay-saying aunties told him that wouldn't work, but he brushed her off and I let him plug in the blow dryer and "cool down" the cookies.

Soren figured out how to remove the bottom from his blocks container and started wearing it around the house on occasion. He looks perfectly homeless, doesn't he?

I make enough homemade playdough to open up a factory. This was a batch that Soren got wet. He was fascinated with the resulting texture, however, and sat in his high chair playing with it for a large amount of time. Anything for a few minutes of peace, I always say.

Other tidbits:

Soren has an enormous crush on his Auntie Briar. Every evening as a family we'll sing a song and then have family prayer. Briar is not into singing (at least not when anyone can hear), so she usually does not participate in the song portion. Soren, however, will often run up to her and shove a finger in her face, demanding, "You sing it!" So Briar will mouth the words in an exaggerated fashion, much to his eye-sparkling delight.

Soren was playing quietly in the front room and Liam was downstairs squealing loudly. Without looking up from his toys, he said, "That's a beautiful song, Liam."

Soren was playing with a measuring tape and told his dad, "This is so beautiful. I love it."

Soren loves the word "pretty," as in: "That's pretty nice." He'll say things like, "I'm pretty scared," or "I pretty don't want to go to my room."

He also says, "That be good" or "That not be good," when we're discussing plans. (ie..."Soren! We're going to read a story!" "That be good." "Then we'll go to bed!" "That not be good.")

Tonight I heard him use the phrase, "Speaking of which...." a couple of times.

On the way to Grandma's house one morning, Soren mentioned that Nanny Q (Uncle Quentin) lived in Utah. "Yes, he does," I said. "Do you miss him?" "No," said Soren. "Do you miss Uncle Sue?" "No." "Do you miss Uncle Seth and Auntie Karen?" "No." "Do you miss Uncle Scott and Auntie Amanda?" "No." Pause. "I miss Gracie." Gracie is Seth and Karen's cat. "Oh." I said. "Well, Gracie is in Utah too."

Yesterday Soren said to me: "Jesus is pretty far away." "Ummm.....yes, I suppose he is," I replied. "Jesus is in Utah," he added.

"Oh, I love you!" I told him one morning as I buckled him into his carseat, the way I have a million times before. "I love you too," he said, a first.

Today Soren offered to say the dinner blessing. "Dear Heavenly Father," he said. "Please bless Liam that he will get out of the high chair because it is my turn."

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Book Review: Deep Storm

Deep Storm
by Lincoln Child

A top-secret undersea government project is rumored to be the recovery of the actual city of Atlantis. When people working on the deep-sea site start encountering unexpected medical problems, however, Dr. Peter Crane is brought on board to help diagnose and treat the problem, and he soon discovers that the scope of the project stretches far beyond Atlantis.

Good plot, good characters--an interesting, enjoyable read.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Hugh Jackman....dainty?

After I mentioned that Abe had a man-crush on Hugh Jackman, my sister-in-law commented that Hugh seemed a bit...dainty....to her.


Does this 6'1" 215 pound man look dainty to you?


25 Things About Abraham: Final Installment

21. Abe has a condition called "congenitally missing permanent teeth," which means that he still has some baby teeth.

22. My husband is a hard-core bibliophile. He loves books-- especially beautiful books: the man drools over the Easton Press catalog as though it were a Playboy. We currently own approximately eight full-sized bookshelves worth of books. Abe is always reading something-- right now, as he lies next to me in bed, it's The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. He's also currently in the middle of Martin Buber's I and Thou.

23. Abraham is a night owl. His peak hours are generally from 9:00 PM - 3:00 AM. I am, of course, on the perfectly opposite end of that spectrum, and shut down just as he's really finally waking up for the day. He takes advantage of this night-owlishness to get in some quality recreational time, which is extra extra important to him. When I have to choose between sleeping and recreating, I choose sleeping; when faced with the same choice, Abe chooses to recreate. So late at night, while his wife and babies sleep, Abraham watches movies, reads the news, and plays computer games.

24. Though he was raised in New Hampshire, Abe was born in Idaho, on the air force base in Mountain Home. He was born at home, delivered by his father, who later reported that Abraham was a very slippery newborn. His mother had read a biography about Abraham Lincoln during her pregnancy, so they named him after the 16th president of the United States. Abe spent the first two weeks of his life wide awake, which nearly drove his mother mad. I imagine that he was too busy contemplating this strange new existential twist to make time for sleeping.

25. Abraham decided at a young age that he would only kiss a girl if he was sure he loved her. This means that he didn't kiss me until we had been dating for several months, which nearly drove me mad. But the wait was worth it: our first kiss was dizzying.

So there. Now Abraham has made a significant appearance on my blog. He is an adorable and a delightful person, don't you think?

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Crazy Google Searches That Have Led To My Blog

From my Analytics account:

"Deviated septum causing honking sound sleep."

"Toddler poop interrupts naptime."

"Daddy's nude pictures." (This one is a weeee bit disturbing.)

Reviewed: Some Homeschooling Books

Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense
by David Guterson

This is probably the most persuasive book I've read about homeschooling. The title threw me a bit-- images of the afore-mentioned buck-toothed fundamentalists began dancing in my head--but it came highly recommended by my brother Scott, so I gave it a go.

In Family Matters, Guterson-- a high school teacher who homeschools his four children-- addresses everything from the ubiquitous "but what about socialization?" to the question of whether a public education is an essential component of life in a democracy. He argues that homeschooling-- done properly-- is a better choice educationally, emotionally, and socially for children.

Guterson's basic premise is that parents-- who know their children's learning style, interests, personalities, and needs better than anyone else-- should be at the center of their child's education, and he cites a substantial amount of data to show that this is a superior approach. He also includes personal descriptions of the life his sons are experiencing as they grow up outside of the public education system.

The book also contains a fascinating history of the American public shools.

Guterson's approach to homeschooling is well thought-out and practical. I appreciate that he is neither absolutely rigid about a home curriculum nor completely given over to the concept of allowing kids to just learn whenever and whatever they please.

So anyway. I give this book two thumbs up. If you are at all considering educating your kids at home (or are homeschooling your kids but would like to build your defense arsenal), this is a book I recommend you read.

The Teenage Liberation Handbook: How to Quit School and Get a Real Life and Education
by Grace Llellewyn

I found The Teenage Liberation Handbook to be less persuasive in terms of why I should homeschool my children (it was very idealistic and flitty, fraught with the idea that children should never be made to do things they don't want to do) but surprisingly, personally inspirational. I read this book and wanted to develop my own educational curriculum, apprentice myself to a potter, start a political discussion group, and exchange poetry with my friends. I loaned it to my thirteen-year-old niece, Arielle, who is just the sort of person who would actually do these sorts of things.

A Sense of Self: Listening toHomeschooled Adolescent Girls
by Susannah Sheffer

Susannah Sheffer was on the staff of Growing Without Schooling magazine back in its heyday. This book grew from a series of interviews-- some in person, some written--she did with several homeschooled girls who responded to a notice she published in the magazine. The general conclusion of the book was that homeschooled girls (vs public-schooled) have a tendency to be more confident in themselves and their opinions, attitudes, feelings, beliefs, plans, and interests. This is probably true, but it's really difficult to draw any really definite conclusions from the book because of the sampling of adolescent girls from which Sheffer drew (girls who (1) were from families that cared enough to subscribe to a magazine about homeschooling (2) cared enough about homeschooling to read the magazine and see the notice, (3) were interested enough in expressing their opinions about homeschooling that they would contact Sheffer (4) were gregarious enough to initiate contact and participate in the interviews.

As I was reading A Sense of Self, I remember thinking, "Wow! This is rocking my world! This is changing everything! Yeah! I've got to homeschool my kids!" But now I can hardly remember what it was that I found so wildly persuasive. I blame this phenomenon on my brain, which has been slowly and completely fried by motherhood. So, yeah, read it. It will probably change your life. Hopefully for longer than it changed mine.

5 More Things About Abraham

16. Abraham doesn't have a dream career. He's never had something he just absolutely had to be. Nevertheless....a man has to work for a living, and he has found a good match for his personality in librarianship, so he's currently working on a master's degree in the field.

17. Abe loves to shop. Loves it. He loves it way more than I will ever love it. He shops online, he shops in stores, he peruses ads for great deals. A typical date night for us is a huge platter of nachos at Garcia's and a trip to the mall.

18. Abe worked on a Christmas Tree farm for seven years. A Christmas Tree Farm is not the magical holiday wonderland it sounds like. With less-than-savory co-workers, Abe planted, clipped, sheared, weeded, shaped, cut, and baled conifers for a mean, old, tight-fisted New-Englander who paid him $3.75/hour.

19. Abraham was once hit by a car. By his father, who was apparently backing up at an extraordinary clip without looking to see where he was going. The back bumper hit 18-year-old Abe in both shins, throwing him back about ten feet. Abe, who drank an extraordinary amount of milk growing up, didn't even suffer a fracture. He just got up, slid into the passenger's seat, and said, "Da-ad, you just hit me." His Dad's reply: "Oh, was that you?"

20. Abe's family has its own time zone. When Abe was on his mission, his mother wrote to say: "I've decided I am no longer going to participate in Daylight Saving's Time." And they have done so ever since. Visiting is very confusing, because I find myself constantly calculating. "So it's 10:00 AM Skousen Time, which means that it's 11:00 AM in the rest of New Hampshire, which means that it's 9:00 AM in Idaho, so I guess now would be a good time to call home..."

21. Abraham once rode a greyhound bus from Utah to New Hampshire. He describes this time as being his three days in the belly of the whale. He spent a good portion of this time with his nose buried in the window air-conditioner, drawing pictures with his face grease on the window, trying desperately not to breathe in the odor of the man sitting next to him, whom Abe suspects had maybe never showered ever.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Let's hear it for the Oxford Comma!

I am a big fan of the Oxford Comma (alias the Harvard Comma or Serial Comma).

What's that, you say? You don't know what the Oxford Comma even is? That is okay. I recognize that we can't all be grammar freaks, so I will tell you that the Oxford comma is the comma that is inserted before a conjunction in a list containing three or more items.

For example: I went to the park with my kids, Briar, and Hillary.

See that little comma there after the "Briar"? That comma is important. Do you see what would happen if we removed the comma from this sentence? It would become this:

I went to the park with my kids, Briar and Hillary. And -- poof! -- like that, I've suddenly gone from walking to the park with my two little boys and their two live-in aunts to walking to the park with my two grown female children. How did I get so old so fast?

Or how about this example:

I like the following kinds of pizza: Pepperoni and Cheese, Green Pepper and Olive, Anchovie and Onion, and Canadian Bacon and Pineapple.

This sentence is perfectly clear, but what happens when I remove the final comma? This happens:

I like the following kinds of pizza: Pepperoni and Cheese, Green Pepper and Olive, Anchovie and Onion and Canadian Bacon and Pineapple.

So do I like three kinds of pizza (Pepperoni/Cheese, Green Pepper/Olive, and Anchovie/Onion/Canadian Bacon/Pineapple) or do I like four kinds of pizza (Pepperoni/Cheese, Green Pepper/Olive, Anchovie/Onion, and Canadian Bacon/Pineapple)? Without the Oxford comma firmly holding down the boundaries between pizza toppings, the answer to this question is anyone's guess. And that is a travesty.

-----
I will admit that the oxford comma is not always a necessary component of a clearly understood sentence. The following sentence, for example, is simple enough to understand:

I like to eat, drink and be merry.

However, the Oxford comma creates a more accurate visual representaiton of the way lists sound when spoken aloud: One generally says "I like to eat (pause), drink (pause), and be merry," not "I like to eat (pause), drink and be merry." That would sound foolish.

---
Hence, the Oxford comma should always be used. It's simple and straightforward, eliminates ambiguity, and creates a more aesthetic sentence structure. Why wouldn't everyone consistently use the Oxford comma?

The unfortunate thing is that, sadly, not everyone sees it that way. People omit the Oxford Comma all the time. In fact, the entire Associated Press has completely turned its back on the Oxford Comma. This is just plain wrong and it needs to be changed, so now that I've explained to you why this is so important, and you are fired up about the essential nature of this very special comma, I'm going to encourage you to write to your local newspaper and beg them to bring back the Oxford comma. One periodical at a time, we can bring clarity and reason back into the press.

Soren's First Prayer

So Soren actually volunteered to say the prayer over dinner last night.

We were standing in a little semi-circle in the kitchen-- Abe, Briar, Soren, Liam and I-- and Soren kept on saying, "Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ." Abraham thought he was just being profane, but I understood that he wanted to say the prayer, so we gave him the floor.

And this is how it went:

"Dear Heavenwee Father, Thankooforthisday"...at this, Soren wandered off into the front room with his little head still bowed and started playing with his train, mumbling more prayer talk all the while. We encouraged him to come back into the kitchen, and when he arrived he finally said his little bit about Jesus Christ and then, after some encouragement, yelled out "Amen."

So there you go. Maybe he's not a little heathen after all.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Why I should never Tweet.

So I recently rekindled my on-again, off-again relationship with Facebook, and let me tell you: the sparks are flying. But here's the problem-- you know the status bar thing? The little slot where you fill in the blank after your name to describe what you're thinking about or doing? I've developed a mild obsession with it. I love coming up with things to enter into my status bar. In fact, it's gotten to the point where my whole life has been reduced to little third-person snippets that I develop in my brain throughout the day and rate according to wittiness and likeliness to elicit a response. These are the sorts of things that I churn around in my mind:

Rachel is going to say it: I like a capella music and I'm not ashamed!

Rachel got ready this morning single-handedly, as her baby, who weighs the same as a big sack of flour, was not feeling well and required holding at all times.

Rachel wants to take the world in a love embrace!

Rachel hates everyone who has ever lived. Ever.

Rachel thinks that Abraham is perhaps the most hilarious human being alive.

Rachel and Soren just made a fort behind the chair and cooked some pretend pizza and a batch of invisible cupcakes, which we shared with a rather ravenous stuffed bee.

Rachel is so grateful for her little sunbeam baby. He's such a little bright light!

Rachel wishes that Abraham would take up swearing. It can be such a charming habit--and he would be so good at it.

Rachel loves Friday night pizza night!

Rachel thinks that eggnog is the nectar of the gods.

Rachel is excited that it's the weekend because now she gets to do laundry and take care of her sick children! Oh, wait....

Rachel wants everyone to pay attention to her. Right now!

So anyway, while entertaining and mildly delightful, I kind of feel that there's something unhealthy about this habit, like I'm so focused on verbalizing my life experiences in a snappy way that I forget about letting go and just living life. And Twitter? Twitter is like a Facebook status on steroids. I can totally see myself spending the entire day describing my life in 140 characters or less and popping out witty responses to everyone else's 140 character snippets. With my habit of doing everything with a sort of feverish vim, Twitter would quickly descend into an obsession. And, you know, I've got a life to live. So it is because of this that...

Rachel should really probably not sign up for Twitter.

Soren: 34 Months

Dear Soren,

It's been another exciting couple of months with you. When your daddy and I got married, my parents kept telling him, "Life will never be boring for you ever again." I didn't realize that this prophecy would extend to me in the form of offspring!

I wish I could write something really long and prosy, but I don't have time this month, so I'm just going to make a couple of quick lists and be done with it:

-Kisses. You give the most adorable little kisses. Your cousins-- especially Calysta--always ask you for kisses on first one cheek, then the next. And you (usually) hand them out willingly. Sometimes when you kiss me good-bye in the morning, you kiss my lips, then my cheeks, then my chin, then my eyelids. So sweet.

-Grandma and Grandpa. You spend some time at Grandma and Grandpa's almost every single day of the week. Grandpa has taken you fishing a couple of times-- you LOVE this-- and also spent some time helping you practice your fishing skills at home by reeling in a toy four-wheeler. Grandma sat down with you on her lap and played the piano while she and grandpa sang you primary songs. You enjoyed this very much and put your hands on hers while she played.

-Speaking of pianos....your new punishment for being naughty in sacrament meeting is that you are taken out and planted on top of the piano until you beg to be taken back into the chapel. I hope that this doesn't turn you into a hater of both pianos and God.

-You like to sleep with a blanket on your head. I did this as a little kid, too. It made me feel safe; I think your motivation is similar.

-You continue to struggle with the whole poop-smearing thing I've addressed elsewhere on this blog. I noticed recently that your father had taken pictures of some of this poop smearing. I suspect he's saving them to show to me should I ever suggest having another baby.

-One night after family prayers you mentioned that you wanted to "Do Beenet." After a ridiculous amount of scrambling and charades on the part of Hillary, Daddy, and I, followed by you directing all the adults to sit on a blanket and point in a random direction, we finally figured out that you wanted us to "Be Obedient." Must have been a nursery lesson you'd had recently.

-Other than that, though, you seem to be quite Godless. You dislike church and refuse to participate in prayers at home. You must have gotten that from your father. ;)

The following are your cute words/phrases of note from the past month or so:

"Mommy be safe for me?" (Will you keep me safe, Mommy?)
"Peapock" (Peacock)
"Smilk" (Smoke)
"Geared" (Scared-- and you are OFTEN "geared." It's your new favorite emotion.)
"Hauntie" (Auntie)
"Hairpane" (Airplane)

You are my sweet little boy and I adore you.

Love, Mommy

You felt that you needed to participate at a recent Mary Kay party I threw at our house. I don't think you're ready for your own make-up consulting practice yet.

You actually asked to have your mouth taped shut. We certainly weren't going to argue.

I put you down for a nap in a tidy bedroom wearing normal clothes. When I came in to wake you up, your room was trashed and you were attired in size 0-3 month pants without a diaper and a pumpkin shirt. Must have been evil elves.

You must have heard that in a past life, before I had children, I made hats out of yarn. You asked for one and this is what you got.


Sometimes you like to wear Mommy's clothes.

You still sometimes like to be wrapped up like a burrito.

Abraham, items 11-15.

11. The man doesn't like potatoes. In fact, he hates them. This is something I thought I could change after we got married. I thought he just hadn't had them prepared properly. That perhaps he'd been raised on Maine potatoes and didn't know what a real Idaho spud could do for someone. I was wrong. Had I known how deeply rooted (ha!) was Abe's distaste for my home state's pride and joy, I may have reconsidered that whole time-and-all-eternity commitment thing.

12. Abe loves spiders. We do not kill spiders in our home. Generally what happens is that Abe will see an arachnid and say something like, "Oh, how cute! It's scurrying across the ceiling! Can you imagine what it would be like to hang upside down like that?" And we'll let it keep on keeping on. If it appears as though the spider may interfere with family life in some way, we'll very gently scoop it into a wad of toilet paper and free it into the wild.

13. Abe just came and peeked over my shoulder and read item #12. His comment: "But I love snakes more." And that is true. He is a sucker for snakes. I thought this was creepy at first, but I've come to see that snakes do have their charms.

13. Because of his work with juvenile delinquents at an inpatient drug-and-alcohol facility, I will occasionally have cute little teenage boys come up to me and say, "Are you Mr. Skousen's wife? Your husband's the best. Tell him 'hi' for me." On a date at Barnes and Noble recently, we spent quite a bit of time chatting with one of his former clients, a kid whom you could tell had a lot of love/respect for Mr. Skousen. That makes me happy.

14. Abe got such a bad sunburn on our honeymoon that we had to take an emergency mid-night trip to the emergency room in The Middle of Nowhere, Oregon. They prescribed him pain and anti-itch medications that knocked him into a haze of idiocy for the final two days of our first vacation together.

15. Abraham is one of the most well-read people I know. He (who earned his degree in Philosophy) has read way more classics than I (who earned my degree in English.) Despite this, the man has a taste for some really crappy literature--the Tarzan books, for example.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

5 More Things About Abraham

....continued from here.....

6. Abe's best friends come from the over-fifty crowd. He's like an old man himself--which is good, because I like old men--but much more virile--which is even better, because I really like virile men.

7. Abe isn't ashamed that he has a huge man crush on Hugh Jackman. He openly admits that he went to see Wolverine just for Hugh. And yet he is oh-so-very straight.

8. Abraham is not a big fan of the sharing of food. A word to the wise: don't just go taking food from Abe's plate without asking. You might end up with a fork in the back of your hand.

9. We suspect that Abe has a deviated septum, as it seems he is perpetually stuffed up. I can always tell Abe's awake in the morning because of the loud goose-like honking sound he emits while clearing out his nose first thing.

10. Abe cares deeply about politics and actually goes to the effort to write letters to his representatives about issues that matter to him.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Book Review: Raising Your Spirited Child

Raising Your Spirited Child
by Mary Sheedy Kurchinka

According to Kurchinka, the spirited child is "...more. They are normal children who are more intense, persistent, sensitive, perceptive, and uncomfortable with change than other children." Or, in other words, Soren.

"Because they are 'more,'" says Kurchinka, "much of the advice that works for parenting other children is ineffective with spirited kids. To ignore your child's tantrums is ridiculous. He can rage for an hour because you opened the door when he was expecting to do it himself. Sent him to his room for a 'time out' and he is liable to tear it apart. There is no distracting him from something that he wants. Even if the stereo is off limits, he'll climb over, under, or around the barriers to return to the shiny dials. Aa a result you can feel crazy, wondering what you are doing wrong and thinking that you are the only parent in the world with a kid who acts this way."

Um, yes.

While reading this book, I was frequently overwhelmed with the desire to throw my head back, laugh maniacally, and scream, "I'M NOT ALONE! I'M NOT ALONE!" Everything she said about spirited children, everything she said about the way parents of spirited children feel-- it all just absolutely resonated. It was such a relief to find this book.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Twenty-five Things About My Husband: Part 1

A while ago Abraham commented that "our" blog should be "Rach-n-Kids" rather than "Rach-n-Abe," as he rarely makes an appearance in my posts. This is true. But it shouldn't be, because Abe's the best, so I was trying to think of a way to do a special post just about Abe when I came across a blog in which someone was doing one of those "Twenty-Five Things About Me," memes. I should do that about Abe, I thought to myself. And so I am. And, in keeping with my resolution to keep my blog posts shorter and sweeter, I'm going to break it down into a five part series.

So here it goes: Numbers 1-5.

1. Abraham loves technology. I mean, he really loves it. One of Abe's greatest pleasures is shopping for a new electronic gadget: he'll spend hours perusing websites, reading reviews, and comparison shopping until he's positive he's found the best product for the best price. Right now he has a slightly out-of-control passion for "smart phones," particularly Verizon's Droid. The wallpaper on his desktop computer is currently a jumbo picture of the Droid; he has also recently downloaded a Droid simulator. He checks all of his geek blogs every day to get any updates on what's happenign with the Droid. He is a man obsessed.

2. Abe has never, ever, ever uttered a cuss word. Ever. I know, right?

3. Abe is number two in a family of eleven children. This means he spent a lot of time rocking babies to sleep while he was growing up.

4. One of Abe's greatest mentors and role-models growing up was his Grandpa Forbes. When Grandpa taught Abe a lesson, he listened. Grandpa Forbes helped instill in Abraham a strong work ethic, the desire to do things well, the ability to fix almost anything. He died shortly before Abraham left on his mission, so I never got to meet him, but I am grateful that he was there for Abe's first ninteen years.

5. Abraham was once interrogated by the FBI because he was suspected of committing a hate crime. (But he didn't do it! Well, he did....but it wasn't a hate crime. He helped another elder on his mission burn a suit to mark the end of his mission. They did it in the church parking lot and I guess that didn't look so good.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Book Review: Animal Dreams


by Barbara Kingsolver

I liked it. It didn't rock my world or anything, but Barbara Kingsolver writes solid stuff. You can't go wrong picking up any of her novels: gorgeous writing, multi-dimensional characters, meaningful plot, oppression, minorities, communication breakdowns, all that good stuff. Also, the male lead in Animal Dreams is adorable. As in, heck yes I would take him home with me.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Liam: 8 Months

My Littlest Angel,

Since I last wrote, you have:

1) Grown three teeth (two on the bottom; one on the top).
2) Finally learned how to roll over!
3) Spent a lot of time rocking yourself in your carseat on the kitchen floor.
4) Started to allow us to feed you very small amounts of solid foods.
5) Inconceivably, become even more sweet and fat and adorable.

You are precious beyond words.

Love,

Mommy

Here are some pictures from the last couple of months:

Even your feet are fat!


Having a nap on Uncle Scott. If naps are good, you say, naps on someone are even better.


Having a good time with Auntie Hillary, whom you adore.


Drinking a bottle in a Boppy.


I'm not sure if this was Soren's doing...or your father's.


Sometimes you fall asleep while playing. Such a thing has never been witnessed before in our household.


At six months, contrasted with your two-week-old cousin, Benjamin.

Friday, November 06, 2009

Another failed holiday.

We don't seem to have the best luck with holidays. Some of you may remember the Halloween Fiasco of 2008. Or perhaps you recall the Christmas Diasaster of 2007.

Let's just say that this Halloween 2009 was no better than Halloween 2008.

So I was trying to make some chili for the ward trunk-or-treat. Soren and Liam were both dressed up as Tigger. All was well. We would soon be off. And then, oh then, all hell broke loose.

It all started when Soren tried to intubate Liam with a mug straw. This was followed by lots of screaming from both children and a heroic effort on Abraham's behalf to refrain from doing Soren grievous bodily harm. In the chaos, I forgot all about the chili I had put on the stove on high heat. It was perfectly black and nasty by the time I did remember it, and at that point Soren had begun throwing a tantrum about how he wanted to wear his pumpkin costume and not his tiger costume. I didn't want to reward this sort of rottenness, so we stayed home and gave away all of Soren's potty training candy to kids too old to be trick-or-treating. Abe and I were both miserable and fell asleep wishing that we had never heard of having children.

I think next year I'll just cancel Halloween.

Homeschooling

I have been wanting for ages to do a post about homeschooling. I think about it a lot, though I'm not sure if it's something I want to do. When I first started dating Abraham (who was home-schooled), I was very sure about whether it was something I wanted to do. So strong was my opinion, in fact, that I informed Abe that I would never be able to marry him. "Why is that?" he asked.
"Because I refuse to homeschool my children," I replied.
"What makes you think I want to homeschool my kids?"
I had assumed that all homeschooled kids thought that homeschooling was the best.
"You don't?"
"I don't know. It will probably depend on a lot of things. But no, I'm not adamant about homeschooling."
"Oh." Pause. "I guess we can keep dating then."
"OK. Good."

I have many, many things to say about homeschooling. However, in the spirit of my new resolution, I am going to whittle my feelings down to their barest bones:

1) I hate the word homeschooling. It makes me think of buck-toothed backwoods Christian fundamentalists. I would much prefer home education: "We are educating our children at home and in the community," not "We're homeschoolin' our keeds to keep 'em from learnin' about EVILoution in them hell-begotten liberal schools."

2) Provided that the home environment encourages learning, an at-home education is bound to be better. For example, the following is typical of a conversation I (public schooled) will have with my husband (homeschooled):
Abe: Can you imagine what it would have been like to be there when Karkatoa erupted?
Rachel: Nope.
Abe talks for a while about the size of the rock that would have been spewed out of the ground; the way the ash would have looked falling on the ocean, etc, etc.
Rachel: Wow. That would have been something else. What was the name of that volcano again?
Abe: Karkotoa? You know, the largest natural disaster in human history? (Slaps himself in the forehead.)

3) Homeschooled kids are weird. This is not necessarily a bad thing, nor does it necessarily imply that they lack social skills or lives. However, homeschoolers are outsiders, and no matter how you cut it, homeschooled kids are going to be different from almost all their peers: their lifestyle is different, their day-to-day activities are different--therefore, their way of thinking about things is different. This will put them, to one degree or another, on the outside. This is not necessary bad, I suppose. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that read, "Well-behaved women rarely make history." And that is true. The people who really make an impact on the world are those who aren't afraid to stand out, to be different, to do their own dance.

4) I just happen to know a few homeschooled kids who aren't very good at doing things they don't want to do. And I'm not sure if that's the product of their educational background or if it's just a personality glitch. But I do know that if there's one thing that traditional school teaches, it's how to suck it up and do crap you don't want to do: how to trudge daily to a place you don't necessarily want to be, how to complete tasks in which you have little or no interest, how to spend time with people you may or may not like, how to priotize, how to organize your time. These are things you have to be capable of doing if you want to thrive in the economic world as an adult.

5) Homeschooling may provide more opportunities for kids to become more of who they really are, unfettered by fears of peer rejection or bad grades.

So those are some of my thoughts on homeschooling. And I believe it is now obvious that I am incapable of brevity. I am uncertain as to whether or not this was caused by my public education.

Resolved: Rachel releasing her perfectionistic tendencies will allow this blog to continue to exist.

So I've decided I need to be less perfectionistic about my blog.

I have so much to say...but I want to say it just right. And include pictures to create visual interest. And avoid boring everyone with too much talk of the kids' antics. Unfortunately, these desires often mean that I just don't post at all....which is certainly not a proven way to increase one's blog readership.

So.

I'm going to start posting more. Little posts. That may or may not include pictures. And if you don't like it, I may have to cry myself to sleep in my huge pillow. But that's okay. 'Cause at least I'll still have my blog.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Soren: 2 years and myriad months

Dear Soren,

Maybe I should begin with the story of how I met your father. It was Spring, 2003. Your dad had just moved into my ward; I recognized him from a Philosophy class we had taken together, noting that he had seemed like an interesting person at the time. He attended the Sunday School class I taught, gleaning, among a flood of spiritual insights, a feeling that went something along the lines of, "Chickachicka-bow-bow!" We went on a ward hike together (your father had brought a date), climbing together in the same clump of people: the medium pacers. I chatted with him and Suzanne, the girl he had brought, and liked them both, though I was a little taken aback by your dad's....how should I put this?... homeschooledness-- and simultaneously charmed by his curiosity and knowledge about little things like snakes and ants. The group ate a picnic at the top of the mountain and then began its descent. At some point Suzanne asked, "Why aren't we running?" And Abraham replied, "Yes, why aren't we?" And before I could say, "Because this hill is twisting and steep and there are roots and rocks jutting out of it, you numskulls," your dad was ripping down the mountainside. Everyone else in the group followed suit. And so I, not wanting to be left behind, also began running down the mountain. This did not go well for me. I tripped several times-- as any reasonable person with legs and normal-sized feet would do--and each time your dad would stop, look back with a detached curiosity, and then continue bounding down the cliff-like mountainside. I was furious that he would be so inconsiderate as to continue leading us towards death at such a foolish pace, and my fury grew with each fall. Finally, watching him again resume running after I had again been tripped by a root, I could contain my rage no longer. I stood up and yelled, in a very classy fashion, "ABRAHAM! I AM GOING TO KICK THE SHIT OUT OF YOU!" and bolted the rest of the way down the hill. That was the moment that your father decided that he wanted to ask me out.

Or maybe I should tell you about The WalMart Incident. My mother loves this story. It was Spring, 2004. We were engaged. We had driven to Wal-Mart. I was circling the parking lot for a good spot when your dad impatiently directed me to "just park somewhere."
"You know what?" I said. "You're right. We do need our exercise." So I drove to the far end of the parking lot and pulled the car through a space.
"What is this?" your dad sputtered. "This is too far away! This is ridiculous! There are several dozen spots closer to the store! What are you doing?"
"I'm parking," I declared, pulling up the parking brake.
"Not here!"
"Yes here."
"No. Absolutely not."
"Um, yes. Absolutely yes." I got out. "Let's go."
"I refuse."
"You're being ridiculous."
"Give me the keys."
"You're being ridiculous."
"Give me the keys."
So I gave him the keys and walked to the store while he pulled the car into a spot that he considered more appropriate and walked from there.

So why am I telling you these stories? I tell you these two stories simply to underscore the point that your father and I shouldn't have been surprised when we bred and....well....you resulted.
I loved this Play Dough creation. I also loved that you were wearing that turtleneck. It always makes you look like a little artiste.

Having fun with bubble wrap. (Thanks, Heidi!)

You were born with your eyes open. As soon as they got you breathing easily, you were alert, looking around, fascinated with the world around you. We brought you home and discovered that our tiny little baby had surprising strength. You couldn't sleep unless you were swaddled, but you couldn't be swaddled like a regular baby-- you would flail your arms around with such furious strength they couldn't be contained. Daddy had to lie you down on one side of a blanket and, firmly holding your arms in, roll you up tight like a burrito. And only Daddy could do it. My burritos were too wimpy. But even Daddy Burritos could only hold for so long. You would wake up and lie in your crib grunting and struggling until first one arm, then the other, would pop out and start waving around like a rodeo cowboy's. We called you Our Little Houdini.

Swaddles were also necessary at meal times. You would cry passionately when hungry, but when I tried to nurse you, you'd push away with your strong little arms, crying even more furiously because you were so hungry but couldn't get to the food. I thought a lot about that, thinking of how it was so very symbolic of my relationship with God: how I cried for His love and nourishment but pushed it away at the same time. I also wondered if this was symbolic of the way you would live your life. Then, once we got you eating, you ate furiously, gulping and making "hooting" sounds the whole while. When we stopped for burp breaks, you would scream.

You started to crawl at six months and I haven't had a moment's peace since.

And now, oh now, you're two.

Playing with the hose and sprinkler in the backyard with Daddy.

You are a "more" boy. You are rarely content with what you've been given. I'll give you a candy and you'll immediately say, "Want more. Want more candy." You'll be playing with a toy and throw a tantrum because you don't have more toys. I'll give you a hug and you'll push away, crying, saying that you want a hug. You never seem to have enough attention, no matter how much we give you, and you'll do anything to provoke even negative attention. In fact, you'll be doing something naughty and we'll ask, "Do you want a spank?" And you will respond, "Yes." And you really mean it. You like the drama of a spanking. You particularly like to pick on Liam, because you know that provokes the most intense sort of attention from your parents. You take away toys he's playing with and throw them across the room. In the car you'll scream a piercing "no!" at him until he starts to cry. At the most random peaceful moments you poke at his eyes, hit him, pinch him, scratch him.

We have tried everything to counteract this. We try giving you plenty of one-on-one time while simultaneously providing you with opportunities to learn that you are capable of playing independently. At first, we thought maybe you just didn't understand soft touch, so we worked on showing you the appropriate away to touch Liam. This just provided you with more opportunities to hurt him. So we switched tracks, deciding you needed some time away from the situation to cool down, so we started putting you in your room. When this didn't work I, who don't believe in spanking, started spanking you. When this too proved ineffective, we reverted back to putting you in your room and keeping you separate from Liam as much as possible. This is what we're doing now, but it doesn't stop you from hurting him; it doesn't stop you from screaming at him; it doesn't stop you from taking his toys. I work very hard at making it clear to you that you are a good boy, that I love you, but that your behavior is inappropriate. My attempts seem futile. It's deeply frustrating and I find myself wondering how it's possible to harbor so much love for someone who is capable of making you so very angry.

But anyway.

You aren't all battles, tantrums, and bloodshed. And when I told those stories at the beginning of this letter, I didn't mean to imply that you are a combination of your father's and my worse traits. On the contrary, those stories provide a great visual of a good part of what I enjoy about my marriage: I love the intensity, the arguments, the sparks. And I love your intensity and spark too. (I just wish I knew how to reign it in to your advantage.)

Here are some of the cute things you've done this month:

In the middle of the night, you woke me with some pretty sad sounding crying. I stumbled into your bedroom and right into a pile of something squishy. Oh geez, I thought. Not this again. "Soren? I asked. Did you poop?" "Yummy poop," came the reply from a shadowy corner of the room. Oh GEEZ, I thought. He's been eating it. I wearily flipped on the light and there you were, sitting big-eyed on your rocking chair, vomit dried to your face. "Oh, poor baby! You threw up!" "Yummy poop," you said. "Oh, that's no fun," I said, looking at the miniature trail of vomit piles curving around your bed. "I 'cared," you responded. "I frow up." "Poor lovey," I replied and gave you a hug. Then I set about getting you cleaned in in fresh jammies, and scrubbing the vomit out of the carpet. "I frow up," you said again. "Poor Soneen." Then you thought about the hundreds of times you'd seen Liam spit up too and made a connection: "Liam throw up. Poor Liam."

(For the record, this was the beginning of a string of days in which I was vomitted upon multiple times. There was also one occasion when, right before the Relief Society presidency showed up for a visit, and right after I had strategically covered up the stains on the carpet with building blocks, you threw up all over me and the kitchen floor. The timing was impeccable: you threw up and they knocked on the front door.)

In Stake Conference you were wiggling around on Grandma's lap when someone mentioned the Biblical Abraham. Grandma, who didn't think you were listening, was delighted to see you look up and exclaim, "Daddy's Abraham!"

Trying to determine whether Wheat Thins are a healthy snack choice.

You love trains. I can not emphasize this enough. You love books about trains, you love toy trains, you love making trains out of blocks. You love it when Liam hoots like a train, you love it when you can hear a train going through town, you love seeing real actual trains, you love riding on train rides. You want to spend all your time at Grandma and Grandpa's house, or the Smith's house, because they both have train sets.

One evening before family prayer, Auntie Hillary and I asked you what song you wanted to sing. "Ruh Ruh Knee Song," you said. "Excuse me?" I asked. "Ruh Ruh Knee," you insisted. "Ruh ruh knee, huh?" I said, totally perplexed. So after some prodding we talked you into singing it: softly, shyly, you softly sang, "Ruh ruh knee, Kye Kye Knee." It was "Reverently, Quietly," a Primary song we often sing with you at bedtime. It was adorable. It was even adorable when you sang it really loudly in the middle of Sacrament Meeting a few weeks ago, though I stifled my giggle and asked you to use your quiet voice. You've really taken to singing in the past month: you sing "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star," which usually gets all jumbled up with "Bah Bah Black Sheep" and the ABC song. You sing "All the Pretty Little Horses." You sing "Reverently, Quietly." You also make up songs about various things. Daddy tells me he heard you singing a song about putting your poops in the potty and getting candy for it.

In Soren's world, things are not "small": they are "tiny." You'll describe something as being "BIG," using a big husky voice, and then contrast it with something "tiny," using a little squeaky voice. Again, adorable.

Some nice interactions with your little brother. I hope so much that you'll be each other's best friends some day soon.

You still love Mommy's hair. Whenever I take it out of my ponytail you'll exclaim, "Mommy's a girl! Mommy's a girl!" Sometimes at bedtime if I can get you to calm down enough to lie on your mattress by the door, I'll lie down with you and you'll stroke it and we'll talk about whatever comes to your mind. I love those times with you.

You are a beautiful, sweet, ridiculously handsome little boy.

I love you more than you'll ever know.

Love,

Mommy

More Life Upheavals

I feel like I'm always ten posts behind on this blog. I would love to post every day, but that is a luxury for another year, I suppose.

So I had been working at A-Z Family Services, helping part-time with the administration part of a new case management program they're offering for teens on Drug Court, when Harbor House shut down. I asked my boss, Tom, if I could expand to full time hours and he said I could-- but not until business picked up in case management sufficiently for him to be able to afford to pay me.

It was looking like that might not happen for a while and we were starting to REALLY tighten our belts when a miracle happened.

One random I got a call from Tom, who said, "The main office receptionist just quit. Do you want to replace him? Tomorrow?"

Did I ever. I just about fell to my knees in gratitude at that very moment.

And thus began my venture into the wide world of being a full-time working mom. Which is shockingly different from being a part-time working mom, in case you were wondering. I work every day from 10 - 6, which means that I wake up, eat breakfast, get ready, play with the boys for a little while, drop Soren off at my mom's so that Abe can actually get some schoolwork done (except on Tuesday, when Collette watches him), and drive to work. And then I'm gone all day. This makes me a little bit sad, because it disconnects me a little from home life. I don't get to see the little things that happen during the day. I don't hear the funny songs that Soren makes up, I don't hear Liam's creaky squealing, I don't play blocks and play dough for hours, I don't hold a squishy fat baby in my lap, I don't serve up graham crackers and milk for an afternoon snack. (Abe is good to text me when something cute happens, though, which helps a little.) And there is a plus side: I also don't have to deal with one million tantrums, watch the clock until Abe gets home, feel lonely and isolated, try to scrub poop out of the carpet with a toddler climbing on my back and a baby clutched in my arms, or drag a screaming two-year-old to his room with one arm while holding a twenty-five pound nursing baby in the other. In the evenings, I come home, we eat dinner (which Hillary has frequently prepared, may God bless and keep her forever and ever), I play with the boys for a little while, we go through our bedtime routine, the boys go to sleep, I attempt to pick up a little clutter, and then I crash into bed as well.

One thing that has helped immensely is that Soren goes to my parents' house nearly every day. My mom was really worried about Soren when I started working full-time: he's such a mama's boy, and she noticed that during that first week he had begun acting up more and lashing out more at Liam. So she called me and said, "I think that Soren needs one-on-one attention and a predictable routine. Can I watch him for a few hours every morning and bring him home after his nap?" Could she??? Could she ever. That has been such a blessing, providing my "spirited child" with a consistent place to go and receive the one-on-one attention that he so desperately needs, while simultaneously increasing Liam's safety and providing a quiet atmosphere in which Abraham is able to do his homework.

Also, we now have Briar living with us, in addition to Hillary.

And we blessed Liam on Sunday. These are both things that I hope to post about soon.

But for now, I need sleepy.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Race Pictures

At the beginning of the race. I'm the girl in the brown ponytail on the far left. Seth is the person directly to the front and left of me. Karen is in the hot pink jogging shorts. Her sister Annie is in the navy blue shirt next to her. Marty is the tiny sliver of bald head over the girl in the white hat.

Here we are at the end, triumphant and sweaty.
(Left to Right: Annie, Karen, Seth, Me, Marty)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Liam: 6 Months

Sweet William,

Today in Relief Society you sat in your car seat and rocked yourself happily to the rhythm of the hymns, looking around and smiling your big baby smile at anyone who would catch your eye. You are an enormous flirt and do the most delightful things with your face while feeling flirtatious: the double-eyebrow raise, which I personally favor, plus a hands-to-the-face-bashful-half-turn grin that I'm sure will melt the heart of many a little girl in years to come.


Through your first few months, you were uncomfortable and cried a lot, but since those difficult days you have become a delightfully happy little person, a sweet presence of calm warmth and light in our home. One day I was holding you in my lap and you were studiously looking at the world around us, cheeks puffed and eyes squinted like an old man reading the evening news. You rotated your head, looking first left-- then center, where you saw my face and lit up into a smile--then right, where you immediately settled back into your analytical frown.

With Uncle Seth after The Big Race.

You can often be heard singing high-pitched whale songs to yourself-- squeals that climb and dip and slide at melancholy intervals. This suits you in that you are big and blubbery (and lovable) like a whale.

You are your daddy's little boy. He just positively lights up when he sees you, and I frequently catch you gazing at him, aglow with admiration. He loves to rock you to sleep at night. He'll frequently take you from me so he can put you to bed.

Reading Robinson Crusoe with Daddy.

Soren is a also source of fascination for you. You seem to really love and look up to him. And he loves you. Sometimes. He's always excited when you wake up in the morning. And he loves watching the way your eyes get big and googly when we pull the car into the dark garage. He'll do anything to make you laugh. NOTHING makes him happier than making you laugh. He also likes to make you cry, unfortunately, and continues to lash out at you at the most unexpected moments. This does not seem to have dampened your love for him, though, and you continue to smile when he comes into a room.

A rare violence-free moment between Soren and Liam.

So you are sweet. But you are also stubborn. After three weeks of letting you cry it out at night, I finally gave up and brought you back into the big people bed, where you contentedly nurse all night long, stretch out, and hog the bed like a spoiled Persian cat.

Demonstrating the Persian cat pose.

And there are places you do not like. Doctor's officers are one of those places. I don't know if you still retain memories of your hospitalization or if it's an unconscious thing, but whenever I take you in for checkups you cry and cry and cry. Whereas most people comment on your blithe personality, at your six month checkup the PA looking at you asked if you were a melancholy baby, taking things a little more seriously than most. (Incidentally, at your six month checkup you weighed in at 22 pounds (98th percentile), measured 26 1/2 inches long (95th percentile), and bore a cranium so large it measured off the charts.)

Waking up and not very happy about it.


And that about wraps it up for this month.

So, to our little Mr. Rainbow-sunshine-sugar-spice-sweetness: we love you.

Love,

Mommy

P.S. As I read through this letter, I've noticed that, amid all my talk of your cheerful personality, every single one of these pictures of you are serious. So you're just going to have to believe me. You are very smiley and happy. Honest.

I know I can! I know I can!

(I've been waiting for pictures, but they're slow in coming, so I'll post this now and pictures later.)

Way back in June my sister-in-law Karen blogged about how she and my brother Seth had signed up to run a 5K in August. They'd done something similar last summer; it's how they motivate themselves to keep in shape. In that post she wrote, "We've already got my sister, Annie on board to run with us and I thought it would be fun to invite all my devoted blog readers to join us too!" And I, being a devotee of Karen's blog, as well as a (former) devotee of long-distance running, decided to jump on the bandwagon and sign up for the Ogden Family Fun Run. I started training that very week. Karen's sister Annie and my sister's husband Marty also signed up for the race.

Training wasn't easy. First of all, I was in terrible shape. At first I could barely run a lap around the high school track, so I started out by running a lap, walking a lap, running a lap, walking a lap. Secondly, I could think of a million reasons why right now was now a good time to get back into running: I hadn't slept longer than a three hour stretch in five months, the physical demands of mothering left me exhausted at the end of each day, I'd rather spend my precious spare moments pursuing something more intellectual.

One day while I lay curled up in a patch of tall weeds in an empty lot in our neighborhood, wondering how anyone ever survives motherhood, I decided I was going to quit training. It was just one extra stress that I didn't need. And then the thought came to me: If people only accomplished their goals when it was easy to do so, this world would be a pretty crappy place. Training for this race was going to be hard, yes, but I am capable of doing hard things. So I returned home to my frazzled husband and screaming children, fed the kids, bathed them, put them to bed, and went for a run.

I tried to run three times a week, but there were some weeks when I'd only go out once. There were others when I didn't make it out at all. I just kept reminding myself that, not only was I capable of doing this, I had invested fifteen whole dollars in the race registration fee, so I darned well be ready to run the dumb race at the end of August.

And, lo and behold, August 29, 2009, Karen, Seth, Annie, Marty, and I ran and completed the Ogden Family Fun Run. My goal was to run the whole way, without any walking, which I did, despite the insane hilliness of the run. It took me 32 1/2 minutes, which was worse than the worst time I ever clocked during my high school cross-country days, but let me tell you: it was a hard-fought 32 1/2 minutes, uphill both ways, and I'm proud of it. I decided to do something hard and, through hell and high water, I did it. Go me.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

So maybe I should mention the major life upheavals.

Things at Harbor House (the drug-and-alcohol rehab where Abe and I both worked) were not looking very good. It's very complex, and I won't get into the politics of it all here, but let's just say that the Clinical Supervisor quit, the Director quit, the Youth Specialist Supervisor quit-- and no one was hired to replace them. Abe (the interim supervisor), Jenny (a counselor), and I (the admin assistant) were stuck running the place on our own. When the former clinical supervisor offered me a job at his own business, I jumped at the chance to get out of the sinking ship and into something more stable. No one was hired to replace me. I started my new job Monday this week. On Tuesday it was announced that Harbor House would be closing in two weeks.

So Abe is out of a job.

Which is OK, actually, because we've decided that he can use this time to plow through his Master's program. He should be able to complete it in a year and a half or less now. I'll be working full time, but I think I can rig my schedule so that I can be home a lot anyway-- working from 7 to 3 Monday, Wednesday, and Friday and from 12 to 8 on Tuesday and Thursday. That will give me a couple afternoons and a couple mornings a week to spend with the boys. We're still going to have to tighten our belts some, but I think we'll be able to ride this out without too much suffering.

In other news, Nicholas got a job in Salt Lake and moved out. He found a fabulous apartment in the downtown area, is liking his new job (doing graphic design for a scrapbooking company called BasicGrey), and has already made a kajillion new friends-- though he still remembers to text me most days. Tonight he sent me the following two messages:
1) Omg walking to get groceries at dusk. Life is perfect!
2) And I'm quickly brought down from my cloud when I discover my fly is down.

Next up for our downstairs bedroom: Abe's sister Hillary, who is moving in at the end of the week.

Fame!

Oh. My. Gosh.

I'm famous.

Adam Sheppard, the author of Scratch Beginnings, which I reviewed here, commented on the review. Wow. Kind of wish I hadn't been so critical.

Friday, August 07, 2009

I'd like to thank the academy..

My sis-in-law Karen nominated me for this prestigious award on her blog. She, herself, is the proprietor of a delightful blog that I think you should all visit and leave comments on. Click here to visit it.

This, like all blog memes, has its ruls, which are, as copy-and-pasted from Karen's blog:

1. Put the award on your blog.
2. Include a link to the person who gave you the award.
3. Nominate 6 or more blogs.
4. Leave a message on their blog letting them know they have an award on your blog.

Now this provides me with an opportunity to discourse briefly about what I think makes a good blog. My requirements are as follows: (1) I have to feel some sort of genuine love or affinity for the blog writer or be extremely interested in their writing (2) The blog can be neither too positive nor too negative. (3) The blog has to include something more than pictures of your kids. (4) The English language must not be brutalized into an unrecognizable state by cruel misuse and idiocy. (5) The blogging individual has to post at least once a month. I am picky about my blogs because I would otherwise spend my entire lifetime reading about everyone's children's cute antics, and I am only really interested in my own children's cute antics, and also Holly's and Ginger's, but their blogs are private, so I will not nominate them here. So these are my favorite blogs, excluding those that are all secrety and password-requiring:

(1) Simply Mother. Kate is one of those really cool people who knows who she is and what she's doing and why-- but she's totally not annoying about it. That takes some skills, my friends.
(2) Dooce. So inappropriate. And yet, I love her.
(3) Nckwhlr (ie, Nick aka Uncle Sue). I love Nick and I love his blog. You should read it.
(4) You Probably Don't Care, but You Should This is my pseudo-cousin Mark's blog. He is totally wacky and hilarious.
(5) My Random Life Story. This is Karen's blog, which I'm linking you to again, in case you didn't get my first message about going to it and leaving comments.

For a few moments I worried about my nominations and wondered if I should just nominate EVERYONE whose blog I have ever read ever, for fear of offending someone, and then I decided that it's probably good for me to offend someone now and again as a reminder to myself that I don't have to be loved by everyone all the time. So go ahead, People Whose Blogs I Did Not Nominate, hate me. See if I care.

Also, I am breaking the following rules: Number 3, because I take my blog nominations very seriously. And number 2, because I am also not going to post comments on anyone's blogs about how I nominated them, because everyone listed here also reads MY blog and will therefore know that they have been nomated. Everyone, that is, except for Dooce, who gets thousands of comments on every post and has won real blog awards and doesn't give a damn that I like her blog.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Liam: 5 Months

Sweet William,

When I open my eyes in the morning, you are usually right there, tucked under my shoulder, one short chubby arm slung as far over my body as you can get it. You're usually still asleep, but sometimes you're not-- and as soon as you notice me looking at you your face lights up into a smile, a smile that will continue for most of the rest of the day. And if that's all I were to say to you in this letter, it would pretty much sum you up. You're a Cuddler and a Smiler; a twenty-pound bundle of sweet squishy smiley baby fatness.

Smiling at Daddy outside. Age 3 months.
Looking so fat in your car seat. Age 3 months.
Cuddling with Grandpa Hanson. Age 4 months.

It's good, too, that you're such a happy little fella, because it seems that life is hell-bent on making sure that you experience a lot of pain in the first few months of your life. Between your reflux problem, your hospitalization, and your older brother's guerrilla attacks, I'm afraid you're beginning to believe that life, though usually pretty good, is laced with unexpected bursts of inexplicable agony. Which, now that I write this, I realize is true. So maybe it's not so bad that you're learning this lesson early on. At any rate, you seem to really enjoy the good parts.

Worried that Soren might be coming to attack.

Speaking of the not-so-good parts: We've been letting you cry it out at night lately. The doc said that if we did sleep training while you were four months old, it would take three nights--tops!--for you to be sleeping through the night on your own. I believed him, not taking into account that you're our child, and therefore ridiculously stubborn. Thus far it has been 18 nights, and you still wake up and cry. I can't stand to listen to you crying, so I usually close the bedroom door and turn on the fan to block out the sound. I feel bad about this, but here's what you can tell your counselor when you're confronting your trust/abandonment issues in therapy later on: after four months of not sleeping for longer than 1-3 hour stretches, your mother decided it was either (1) let you cry it out, or (2) commit vehicular suicide. Now, after 18 glorious nights of getting long stretches of sleep, I no longer look longingly at trees, bridges, and telephone poles while I'm driving. My hope is that at this reading you're grateful I gave you the gift of nighttime sleep and didn't leave you motherless. If you're not, please also tell your therapist to stop looking for blame and start looking for solutions.


Age 3 months. The towel is to protect the carpet from baby barf.

We've tried introducing you to big people food, but you're not so into it. This is problematic, as I don't think my body is capable of producing enough milk to support a child the size of a newborn whale, which is the size category I think you'll grow into right after you're finished with your 9-12 month sized clothing. I've fed you rice cereal, I've given you squash, and I've tried pears, but from the expression on your face when these foods hit your palate, you'd think I was feeding you fecal matter, dog vomit, and overcooked brussel sprouts. You're going to have to adjust, though, cookie, 'cause I'm not nursing you forever. As soon as you say your first word, we're through. And then it'll be nothing but rice cereal and applesauce forever.
Trying to pretend the food isn't coming.

Squash. Yuck.

Might I get a spot of milk? I've seem to have a foul taste in my mouth.

Anyway, my little munchkin, I'm so grateful we still have you. Where would I be without your smiles? And nuzzling the skin on the top of your head, which is loose and soft as a puppy's, and smells like milk and baby oil? Also kissing your pillowy cheeks? And slow dancing with you in the kitchen? You are such an excellent slow dancer.

Oh, Sweet Soft Cuddly Milky Pillowy Smiley Baby of Mine...

I love you.

Mommy

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