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

Monday, February 28, 2011

Liam's Second Birthday

'Twas a grim affair.

First, Liam announced he had crowned himself dictator of the world and that he would personally see to it that baby bottle production increased 1000% by 2012

He then proceeded to unveil a secret torture device he planned to use on anyone who tried to stop his nefarious plan from unfolding according to plan.

Briar then revealed her role as Liam's primary advisor, announcing wildly to the room: "I'll get you, my pretties. And your little dogs too." She added that some of Liam's bottle factory profits would be used for candy purchases to help feed her insatiable sweet tooth.

The crowd listened in silence, overwhelmed by hopeless despair.

One young woman fought back tears as she contemplated spending the rest of her once-promising life fitting rubber nipples onto bottles in a dark factory. She had once dreamed of becoming a fashion designer.

In a desperate attempt to save her from a lifetime of bottle-factory slavery, Tessa, age 8, attempted to suffocate her older sister, Arielle, in a pile of birthday balloons. The bright colors provided a cruel foil to the darkness of the day's events.

Or, maybe Liam was happy and sweet and adorable (though a bit overtired) and received many lovely gifts from his adoring family members. Soren might have also received a few consolation gifts from his Auntie Collette and Grandma Hanson. And we perhaps all enjoyed cake and ice cream afterward. Liam may or may not have wrapped up the festivities by watching Adele's Rolling in the Deep with his mommy right before drifting off into a sugar-induced coma....er....afternoon nap.


But you might want to watch out for burly bottle factory recruiters. Just in case.

Nerd Love

Like my new shirt? I bought it for two reasons: one, it was on clearance for $4.00. Two? Well, allow me to share a text exchange I recently had with my husband:

Rachel: Sure love you and like you.

Abe: Thank you. I value your psychological and economic contributions to our species unit as well.

Hallmark couldn't have said it better.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

The Awareness Diet

So in an earlier post I mentioned that I was not a big fan of dieting.

But I also mentioned that I'd like to lose about ten pounds and described how I wanted to gently, over time, introduce positive changes into my everyday eating habits. The goal for October was to focus on hunger/fullness. So the question is: did I do it? And the answer is: no.

(This failure to follow through with a goal might remind some of my more faithful readers that I also did not complete another goal I set a while ago. All I've got to say about that is that Abe got me hooked on watching old episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and all my good intentions went out the window. Oh, how I love you, William T. Riker.)

But anyway, needless to say, I still have fatty hips. Which honestly isn't a big deal, but I have noticed that sometime between my early twenties and my late twenties I have switched from intuitive eating (eating what I'm hungry for when I'm hungry) to the see-food diet (eating whatever I see whenever I see it). And that's no good.

So I've been contemplating how to change this without switching into a freaky diet mentality that will send me spiraling into a dark vortex of dieting/binging, and I've identified that the primary problem is that I'm eating mindlessly, without considering whether I'm actually hungry or whether I really want the food. I think that simply becoming aware of what I'm eating will enable me to cut out my excess calorie intake and lose a few pounds. Enter The Awareness Diet.

The Awareness Diet is very simple. For a minimum of three weeks (the amount of time it's supposed to take to ingrain a habit), I'll write down everything I eat--before I eat it. I'll also record the reason I'm eating it ("hungry," "anxious," "kid left it on his plate," "thought it looked yummy," "avoiding work," "bored," "afraid I won't see another one for a while," "afraid someone else will eat it before I can," etc). I'm totally allowed to eat whatever I want, whenever I want, for whatever reason I want. I just have to take fifteen seconds to stop and think before I stuff my face.

I've created an awareness diet log that I'm going to use to track my eating for three or four weeks--just until I feel like I've recreated a habit of awareness regarding the food that goes into my mouth. (Feel free to use it if you want to play, too!)

And, for accountability, I'll give you a quick update every Thursday about whether I've actually been following through with my goal and if it seems to be helping.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

QIA: Family Home Evening Chart

Issue to be addressed:
Family Home Evenings at our house were going something like this: It's Monday night. We've just eaten dinner. Mommy remembers we need to have family home evening. She herds the family into the front room, dictates the song, calls on someone to say the prayer, teaches a lesson from the nursery manual, comes up with an activity, and scrounges up a treat. The children run around and squawk at each other.

And, you know-- at least we were having FHE, right? But I felt that a little more family participation would be warranted to make Family Home Evening more meaningful for everyone.

I thought that a visual reminder of everyone's Family Home Evening responsibilities would help resolve the problem. I planned to make some sort of construction paper-and-crayons responsibility chart. If I was feeling really fancy, I might have even covered it all in contact paper.

Pam to the rescue! My friend Pam, who is all crafty-n-stuff, volunteered to make an FHE board for us (above). Isn't it adorable? It makes me feel like I have a grown-up house, with a real vinyl craft on the wall. Every Sunday night I make sure that everyone's clear on their responsibilities and we move forward from there.

I still have a tendency to sort of bulldoze my way through FHE, picking songs and treats and calling on people to pray without remembering to consult the board and let everyone follow through with their responsibilities. But I'm trying to remember. And this week, Briar was in charge of treats. She introduced me and the boys to Zebra Cakes. Can we say delicious? The Zebra Cakes alone might make the FHE QIA a rousing success.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Liam's Surgery

We took Liam to see Dr. Terry Baker, an ear-nose-throat specialist who sat and listened patiently while I rattled off our child's lengthy medical history: jaundice, reflux, pneumonia, delayed speech, delayed gross motor skills, frequent ear infections, chronic fluid in his ears. He looked--not surprisingly-- at Liam's ears, nose, and throat, and determined that it was time for surgery. "Particularly with a language delay," he said, "I suggest we do something to get that fluid out of his ears so he can start hearing better. Let's remove his adenoids and insert tympanostomy tubes into each of his ears. This will allow for the draining and aeration of the eustachian tubes. Once that excess fluid is out, his hearing and balance should improve." Abe and I, relieved that we were finally going to do something, scheduled Liam for the earliest slot we could get--Thursday morning, just three days later. I felt great.

A few hours later, I felt terrible. I was anxious about the whole thing: What if Liam had a bad reaction to the anesthesia? What if the surgery ruptured his ear drum? What if his immune system was compromised by the loss of the lymphoid tissue? Was this really what we should be doing? Shouldn't the doctor have taken a CT? Would just ear tubes be enough? Would just adenoids be enough? Should we really do both?

The day of the surgery arrived and I woke Liam at 5:00 AM so we could make it to the hospital by 5:30 am to begin prepping for his 7:00 AM surgery. I thought he would be pissed off about the disruption in his routine: an early morning waking, no Wiggles You Tube videos, no breakfast, a car ride through the dark morning, a strange new place full of strange new people....but, on the contrary, he seemed quite pleased with the whole event. He babbled excitedly all the way there, toddled happily through hallways with me while we waited for the surgery, made a little friend, and only panicked a little when the anesthesiologist and nurse came to take him away.

Afterward he was a little sleepy and a little grumpy, but Gatorade in a Baba made things a whole lot better. That afternoon he was playing normally. The next day you never would have known he'd had a surgery.

In the days that have followed, I have observed him balancing better and acting a little more cheerful. I recognize that these might be normal improvements that may have happened without the surgery. There is one thing, however, that has changed for sure. It's the trains.

Trains periodically pass through the little town where we live. They're too far away for us to see from our house, but we can definitely hear them when they chug through. A few days after Liam's surgery, a train whistle started to blow off in the distance. Liam looked up from his oatmeal and began babbling, looking around for the source of the sound. The whistle blew again: "Uh oh!" he said, "Uh oh!"

I watched him searching for the train and realized I had never seen him react to the sound before. But now, a few days after his surgery, he could hear it: the rumbling of heavy cars on metal tracks, the long, lonely whistle of the engine. "Uh oh!" he said, one last time, before the sound faded out of range, and that's when I knew we had done the right thing.

He can hear the trains.

The Physical Effects of Motherhood

Besides widening my hips, my four plus years of mothering have brought a couple of unexpected changes to my body.

First, my fabulous biceps:

I got these babies from carrying my 30+ pound toddler/infant everywhere he wants to go. Also from hauling Soren off to his bedroom for frequent time-outs.

And this, my latest addition: a white hair. I'm actually quite enamored with the thing. It's almost like a prize...something to show for all my stress and middle-of-the-nights and worrying. I think it might be almost as awesome as my biceps.

I find myself showing these things to anyone I think might bear even a semblance of caring about them ("Hello, Elderly Man in the Checkout Line! Would you like to see my white hair and my biceps?"), so I figured hey, why not share them with the internets? So here you go, internets: a little gift from me to you. Enjoy.

Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Book Reviews

The Hunger Games Trilogy
By Suzanne Collins

I know these books are all the rage these days, but I have to admit: they're good. I heard someone describe the series as being something along the line of Ender's Game meets The Giver and I would agree. It's about Panem, a country formed in North America some time in the future. It's about children forced to participate in a very twisted version of Survivor, a reality TV show in which the participants fight each other to the death. It's about the unstable political structure of the country in which the "Games" take place. And it's about how one girl finds herself thrust involuntarily into the thick of both. Loved the story, loved the imagination behind the setting, loved the characters. It's a series that uses powerful images to draw up important questions about human nature and what it means to be human.

Two thumbs up.

The Host
By Stephanie Meyer

Not gonna lie: I liked it. Quite a bit.

The Host is written by Stephanie Meyer, of Twilight fame, so I was a bit leery of the book and found myself feeling mildly nauseated at some of the early romantic bits. However, if you can push past the initial sappiness, you've got yourself a quality novel. Like Hunger Games, The Host is a book that addresses some important questions: questions about human nature, ethics, and free will.

It's about a race of aliens--called "Souls"--who live their lives through the bodies of other species. The Souls choose a planet to occupy and very benignly move into the bodies of the native inhabitants, taking over their minds and lives. When the Souls move to earth, however, they encounter a new thing: resistance. The Host tells the story of how one Soul, named Wanderer, encounters just this resistance in her own Earth Host, a young woman who refuses to fully submit to the Soul's occupation in her body.

Never Too Late

By John Holt

This is the musical autobiography of John Holt (an important voice in educational theory and thinking) who, at age 50, decided to learn to play the cello. It's a lovely, joyful story about a lifetime of musical connection and growth, told in Holt's very gentle, personable narrative style.

Crucial Conversations

By Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, Switzer

I liked this book so much I've decided to make a PowerPoint and do a training about it at work-- partially so that, in teaching, I can internalize the principles a little more for myself, and partially because I think everyone can benefit from understanding and implementing these concepts in every aspect of their interpersonal lives. Basically, Crucial Conversations is about how to truly open up dialogue with other people: how to discuss import things in a way that is honest, respectful, straightforward, and non-manipulative. I was impressed with both the content and the way in which it was presented. Very accessible.


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