Monday, April 30, 2007

If A Tree Falls In the Forest

I've inadvertently proven that my family has no compassion. The question is: Did I create this, or is this a naturally occurring phenomenon?

So there I was, minding my own business, eating a bowl of cereal in the kitchen when Boy #3 came up to me asking for something to eat. The something in question was peanut butter, and he signified his desires for peanut butter by bringing me the jar and handing it to me, saying "I want peanut butter." But as he was holding it, it slipped out of his hands and crashed to the floor. Fortunately for the floor, my foot was there, blocking the way, otherwise there would be a huge gouge in the wood. I don't think I've mentioned that this was a brand new jar from Costco, and therefore contained roughly 40 gallons of peanut butter. And it was Extra Crunchy.

Instead of a gouge in our wood floor, there ends up a gouge in my foot. The jar landed right on the joint where my big toe meets my foot, where there's normally a bump except that my feet are so puffy that you'd be hard pressed to find any bones there at all. There must be some nerves there or something, because the pain immediately shot through my entire foot, and I screamed and dropped my bowl of cereal on the counter.

Here's where the story diverges. I have one picture in my mind of how it should have gone, and another of how it actually went. I'll show you the way it should have gone first:

I scream, and drop my bowl of cereal on the counter. Since the back door is wide open, I run (hobble) into the living room so that the neighbors don't have to listen to me crying. I try not to aspirate the bite of cereal still in my mouth as I start crying into the couch cushion. That's how bad it hurts - I rarely hurt myself badly enough to cry about it. The kids, who are coloring at the table, ask if I'm okay. DH, who was on his way to take a shower, follows me into the living room, asks me how I'm doing. I say, "Horrible" and show him the giant lump that is now forming on my foot, bruised and blackened.

He goes and gets me a bag of frozen vegetables to put on my foot (by my request, even in my daydream I don't think he'd do that on his own) and deals with the kids for a couple of minutes so I can recover my composure. Then he goes and takes his shower, and I hobble into the kitchen and find that my spilled cereal was cleaned up, too. None of it makes the pain any better, but it was comforting.

Okay, that's the end of the "fake" story. Notice that I didn't embellish this at all, it's not like I was expecting DH to fawn over me, and carry my up to my room. Nor did I think that the kids would start coloring pictures that say "Get Well, Mom" or "I Love You Despite the Giant Growth on Your Foot." No, I believe I was fairly realistic about this. Here's how it really went:

I scream, and drop my bowl of cereal on the counter. Since the back door is wide open, I run (hobble) into the living room so that the neighbors don't have to listen to me crying. I try not to aspirate the bite of cereal still in my mouth as I start crying into the couch cushion. I hear a sound from downstairs - it's the shower turning on. The next sound I hear is Boy #2 asking "Can someone cut this apple for me?" Boy #3 has abandoned his peanut butter quest and instead gets a bag of Cocoa Krispies out of the pantry and pours it on the floor so that he can eat it, flake by flake. He eventually grabs a handful and brings it to the table so he can continue eating while he colors.

Boy #2 asks again if someone will cut his apple, and I say "No!" Boy #1 attempts to cut the apple for him, gets about halfway and gives up. I have been crying this whole time and finally get off the couch and see if, possibly, burglars have tied my family to chairs and that is why no one is coming to see if I need help. Nope, all free and, apparently, not suddenly struck deaf either, so theoretically they could hear me crying in the next room. I crunch through the Cocoa Krispies on the floor and go over to the freezer and find a half-full bag of diced green peppers. On my way back to the couch I say, "Do you guys have no compassion at all? Could you not even ask me if I'm okay?"

Boy #1, the designated spokesman for the group, replies, "Well, we drop peanut butter on our feet all the time, and it doesn't hurt." I say, "This time it hurt. Look at my foot!" I show them the bruise and they are slightly interested, but #1 says "We get hurt a lot and it doesn't matter." I go sit back down on the couch to green pepper my foot.

Again, I'm realistic enough to recognize that it isn't my kids' job to comfort me when I'm hurt, it's my job to comfort them, and I don't think it's reciprocal. But you'd think that it would be a good thing to teach them that if anybody is hurt, to whatever degree, they should at least notice! And sheesh, have we heard the kids complain enough about getting hurt that even my own husband tunes it out, even when it is someone else?

The green peppers bring down the swelling in my foot and I can walk if I don't put much weight on the left half of my foot. I sweep up the Cocoa Krispies and slice #2's apple, then go upstairs to pick out church clothes for #2, who actually gets dressed without complaint today. When DH is out of the shower I show him my foot and say, "I was really hurt!" He apologizes and goes to get some church things ready. Boy #1 says, again, that they get hurt all the time. This time he adds, "Mom, you always say you cry more when you're pregnant, I just thought you were crying because of that." Then he asks if I'm okay and I say yes, thank you, because at least I think he might be learning something from this.

But interestingly enough, I am left wondering if my response to my kids when they hurt themselves is appropriate. #1 is right, they hurt themselves all the time, but they cry when they do it and there's no way to judge how bad the injury is just from the crying. So I am fairly nonchalant about whatever their injury is until I look at it for myself, and then I can decide what level of attention is required. But I don't get too worked up about anything - if there is enough blood involved, I take action, otherwise I generally give them a hug and ask if they are okay and in 2 minutes or less they are off playing again.

There are times, though, when I should have gotten more worked up than I did. I have a few stories that show that not showing compassion when we should have could be a learned trait.

Story 1
Boy #1 was goofing off with Boy #2 in the living room while DH and I sat downstairs, presumably watching tv or something. We heard this massive CRASH and #2 says calmly, "That's why!" Boy #1 is crying, but not hysterical, so we say to ourselves, if he's really hurt, he'll come down and tell us what's wrong. A minute or so later, it is Boy #2 who comes downstairs and says, perfectly calmly, "#1 is hurt." The appropriate thing to say in this case was, "If you care at all about your carpet, you'll get upstairs right now!" Because, as it turns out, when we stroll upstairs we find Boy #1 with his head on the ground, the piano bench on his head, and more blood that I thought the human body contained pouring out of his nose.

Finally moved to action, DH takes him up to the bathroom to clean him off, and I start on the carpet. A minute later, DH calls down to me and asks what I think we should do - it turns out that Boy #1 is also bleeding out of the tear ducts in his eyes. I immediately call my friend who is a pediatrician, but of course he is at work, so his wife gives me the number of his office, since they take emergencies. I call the office and talk to a nurse, who asks me all sorts of questions and determines that since the bleeding is stopping, he can still move his eye, and there's no vision loss, that we'll probably be okay, but to take him in if anything gets worse.

He bleeds for probably 2 hours or so, and I spend almost all of that time, plus every container of carpet cleaner in the house, working on the stain. He turned out fine, the carpet is fine too, but there's one instance where maybe a little faster reaction would have helped, at least for the carpet.

Story 2
I was pregnant with Boy #3 and had the Activity Day girls over, doing an Easter craft. Boy #2 had been doing the craft with us, but then went outside to play. Only a few minutes after he left, I heard him crying. I went to look outside, and there he was, on his tricycle, crying as he pedaled home from our next door neighbor's house. How badly can he be hurt, if he chooses to ride his bike home, right?

He gets to the front door and I give him a hug, pat him on the back trying to get him to calm down. He's still crying, although he looks just fine. My neighbor comes over and explains what happened: #2 was sitting on the fence between my neighbor's yard and the next one down, when he fell backwards and fell into the other yard. The neighbor told me that #2 was bleeding, and I said, No, I don't think so. My neighbor replied, well, I just washed his blood off my hands. So I lift up his shirt, his chest was fine but his back had a giant semi-circle of flesh scraped down it. Apparently on his way down, his back hit a jagged wood post that was part of the retaining wall on the other side of the fence. I immediately took him to Instacare where they stitched his skin back together. He was so exhausted and traumatized from crying that he fell asleep in my arms while they stitched his back.

Story 3
This one is about my Dear Husband. When he worked at Dreamworks, he and some of his friends started bowling on their lunch hour. He really enjoyed himself, although there was the persistent joke about being too good for the golfing crowd, and preferring this clientele better. Anyhow, one day he came home hurt from bowling. Apparently, as he went to throw the ball, he clipped his ankle with the ball. It was bruised and swollen and hurt to walk on. He toughed it out for a few days, with me thinking (although I don't know how much I said out loud) that for Pete's sake, it's a bowling injury! If you're going to hurt yourself, couldn't it be something a little more noble, like saving a kid from crashing on his bike, or maybe more manly, like a football injury? But bowling? How bad could it be? If Homer Simpson can manage to bowl, surely this isn't the kind of sport where you get hurt?

Well, hurt he was. He eventually went to see a doctor about it, and had an x-ray, which showed that he had either bruised or chipped the bone, I can't remember which anymore. But the tendons or muscle or whatever goes over your ankle kept rubbing over the injury whenever he moved it, so that's why it was so persistently painful. A doctor saying something is wrong certainly gives even the weirdest injury some gravitas, so I felt bad for insulting his injury.

Incidentally, the bowling ball has never since seen the light of day.

My foot feels better now, just bruised and purple and hurts when you touch it. I feel a little bad for overreacting, but it did really hurt, and I really didn't like being ignored. But injuries happen in this house, and maybe I'll be a little more compassionate now that I've experienced the other side of it.

In the 45 minutes I wrote this before church yesterday, Boy #3 hurt himself twice. After church, he hit his head on the doorknob, and hurt himself outside somehow and came in crying. In a separate incident, I had to kiss a (very dirty) toe that had gotten stubbed. All of these injuries included tears, but were solved in under a minute. Later that night, DH and I were sitting in the backyard watching the kids play, and Boy #1 walked past, obviously hurt. DH asked him, "Hey, are you okay?" #1 says he's fine, and I look at DH curiously, as if to ask why he would ask that question.

"Well, I'm scared now" DH says.
"Why is that?" I ask, amused.
"You're bigger than I am," DH replies, not joking. I guess if nothing else will teach my family compassion, I can beat it into them with brute strength and intimidation!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

A Birthday Wish List

Boy #1 has a birthday coming up, in three months. That would make it a quarter of a year from now, but it's the next opportunity for gifts so of course it's not too early. He was bored the other day and came upstairs presenting his wish list for his birthday. I thought it would be fun to transcribe it for you, although with some spelling corrections. The notes in parentheses are his.

1. New bike with gears and shocks
2. More of those card things that makes stuff
3. Gamecube
4. DS
5. Wii
6. XBox
7. Gameboy
8. Candy
9. Lego cars
10. Lego Star Wars (not the video game)
11. A castle that I can make with dad
12. More models of cars
13. Notebooks and folders
14. Models of planes
15. Pencils that are sharpened
16. Pringles, original
17. Soda
18. TV
19. Transformer Star Wars
20. Jango's ship
21. Fruit snacks (my own!)
22. I want to see Meet the Robinsons

I thought it was nice to see the list of junk food, as this is proof that we don't have this kind of stuff normally, and isn't that a sign of good parenting? (Grasping at straws here, but I'll take what I can get.) Also, note to grandparents: don't buy items 3-7 without talking to me first. A real gaming system might just put our family over the edge!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

When Honesty Isn't the Best Policy

It looks as though I barely missed shooting myself in the foot. The problem? Telling the truth.

Let me start by saying that I am honest. I'd say scrupulously honest, although that leaves me open to the kind of scrutiny that if I was ever a politician, I'd be afraid of. (Senator, do you recall telling your friend her haircut looked cute, when the truth was, you hated it?) But anyhow, as honest as a person can be. I get bugged by movies or tv shows that use a character lying as a plot device, and you spend the next two hours of the movie saying, Well if you had just told the truth maybe he would have been mad but you wouldn't have gotten into all this trouble! (An aside: DH felt similarly when we saw Miss Saigon, and the sum total of his reaction was, "If she hadn't been a prostitute none of this would have happened!" So does that make him scrupulously against prostitution? Let's hope!)

Honesty. Yes. I'm a big fan. There's really nothing to be gained by lying about something and so, so much to lose. If there is any behavior or action that a person does that they end up needing to lie about to cover up, then don't do that action in the first place! That's where the problem is! But how about when honesty isn't the best policy?

In my ethics class, this topic was brought up with this example: You're in Nazi Germany and hiding Jews. A Nazi official asks you if you know where any Jews are hiding. Do you tell the truth? Does the value of honesty outweigh the value of the human life you are protecting with your lie? Mine is not such a moral dilemma. Telling the truth in my case does not jeopardize lives. It might, however, stop me from going on a vacation.

DH has a cool opportunity to potentially teach Flash to animators in exotic Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. There's a studio in Los Angeles who has a 3-year contract with the Malaysian government to bring American Flash animators to KL for 3-6 weeks at a time, to teach in a school they are setting up together. The studio would pay a salary plus all of DH's travel expenses, a per diem, and provide an apartment. Naturally, my first thought was, how the heck can I get in on this?

Well, it's both easier and more difficult than I could hope. The company encourages animators to bring their whole family - in fact, they want to do everything they can to make this a fun experience so that animators will want to come back more than once over the three year period. So it's a matter of a plane ticket for me, and we are good to go! Except for one thing: what do I do with my kids??

And that's where being a little less honest might have come in handy. Because, as it turns out, once I started chronicling real life in our household, I might have turned off potential babysitters. Dang me and my scrupulousness! Within about 15 minutes of DH applying for the job, I was mentally going over my options to get the heck out of the country, and as much as I hated to admit it, I knew that it would be really hard to sugar-coat what a babysitter would have to deal with.

So within about 24 hours of first hearing about the job (three weeks ago or so), DH got a call and had a phone interview, which went really well. The note that the interviewer left for the CEO who was to do the second interview said "Available after baby born in June. Call immediately!" All of the details that the interviewer gave DH sounded as good as we had first thought, and DH was even more excited about the opportunity, now that it looked like it was really going to happen. My daydreaming kicked into high gear, and I wished it wasn't too late to go out to a bookstore and pick up a tour guide.

By the next day, though, reality set in, and along with it, depression. It happened when I was standing in the kitchen listening to someone whine about something, and I had the thought "No one wants to do this! No one wants my life!" I recognize the level of melodrama here is dangerously high, of course I'm emoting for two right now. But I literally started crying when I realized that I couldn't even bring myself to so much as ask someone to watch my kids for 10 days or so. Sure, people like my kids, but do they like them that much? I'm not so sure.

At the risk of truly embarrassing myself with just how ugly I can get when I'm feeling sorry for myself, I'm going to insert a quote from a diatribe I wrote just for myself when I was in the depths of despair. I know this won't reflect particularly well on me, but it's a true indication of how I was feeling that day (dang honesty again!):

I called Ryan this afternoon and told him that this just isn't going to work out for me to go, and gave him the reasons why. He was surprised by the about-face, since the last time I had talked to him I was totally gung-ho about making this possible for me. But then came the usual line, "Your time will come." I hate hearing that. Yes, I know that most moms my age don't go to Malaysia for 2 weeks when they have 4 kids. I know that my own mom didn't have family to watch us kids, and the only time she got to go on vacations without us, she had to farm us out to neighbors. And now she gets to travel and do all sorts of things, and one day so will I. But, you know what? It sucks to be me right now. I don't actually care about 18 years from now when the child I haven't even had yet is 18. From what older people tell me, life only gets harder, but you know what? It's plenty hard right now and I don't want to hear about the fact that two decades from now I might actually be able to do what I want with my time. It's not a comfort.

Yikes. That is painful to re-read. Sorry about that.

Anyhow, within a couple of days I was not quite so suicidal and able to think a little more rationally (really - I'm not this emotional when I'm not pregnant, I'm really not!) probably due to a couple of nights of getting enough sleep, I revisited the idea. And started to try to come up with some way to get this to work. Amazingly, I came up with some ideas.

DH's oldest sister, while probably the most willing, has recently started a new job and has moved and I figured needs to concentrate on her own life. I considered offering to fly my brother and his wife out (if they could get the time off work) but it's the same week that my mom is going to be in Maryland to visit them specifically. So I thought I could ask DH's other sister, who is also responsible and seems to like my kids enough, and see if she could get time off work to babysit for some amount of the time, and maybe my mom could split the time with her.

I asked my mom first, the day that we got the second phone interview and the CEO told us to start getting our passports. No, actually, I called and talked to my dad and he said that my mom would be happy to watch the kids. I said, "Are you sure mom wants you volunteering her for something like this?" And he said something like, Well, no, probably not in so many words, but that he still thinks she'd do it. I talked to her the next day, and with some amount of trepidation, she said yes. Trepidation due to knowing exactly what she was in for, because I so meticulously documented every minute detail of life with my three boys. She said she was worried about bedtime specifically, it seems so hard from what I describe. No, I said, bedtime's a breeze, it's dinner you should be worried about. Doh! What a stupid thing to say!! I'm trying to recruit her, not scare her off! Honesty again rears it's ugly head.

She sounded a little more willing when I said she'd be splitting the time hopefully, and that I was only going to be gone 10 or so days, as she thought I would be gone the entire three weeks that DH is going. It's always hard to read my mom, as she's a quiet person, not like others in my family that have no problem speaking their mind, frequently to their detriment. So I think she's willing, she says she'll do it, but I'd say she seems nervous and apprehensive about it.

Dh's sister was receptive to the idea, although is also just starting a new job, and so offered to watch the kids with my mother-in-law, which seems like an ideal situation, because the kids can be intensive enough to require tag-teaming, and as much as I love my mother-in-law, I didn't know if she could handle it solo. (I think she feels the same way.) But she is super-enthusiastic, and very, very willing to come and do whatever we need as long as we need her.

The big difference? My mother-in-law doesn't read my blog. While she is more familiar on a day-to-day basis since she's around my kids more, she still only sees them under abnormal circumstances. My mom is making her judgement based on real life, things that I wrote myself about our family. So any trepidation on her part is due to my honesty.

One thought, though, that should be a comfort to my mother - the reason that it is harder for me than it will be for her is that I have to worry about setting a precedent in every single situation I deal with. My mom doesn't. Want to give the kids a handful of cookies 5 minutes before dinner? Sure, go ahead - you only have to deal with the ramifications of that for 5 days. I'd have kids asking for cookies every day until they leave for college. That's what it means to spoil grandchildren - do the things that make kids happy/quiet/think you're great, because if I did that, I'd have to live with the consequences. Eat in front of the tv? Skip bath night just this once? Go ahead, grandma, make it easy on yourself - this should go much better for you than it does for me!

If I had known that a foreign vacation was a possibility, could I have fabricated what life was really like in order to lull my mother into a false sense of security, thereby enabling me to get some free babysitting out of her? Nah, she's smart enough to know that life with little kids isn't perfect. And I've probably whined enough in the past that it wouldn't have done any good to lie at this point. So I can walk away knowing that my integrity is intact, and even with knowing the truth, my kids' grandparents love them (or me) enough to give me this opportunity, regardless of how hard my kids can be. But maybe I'll temper my honesty a little bit in the future, just in case!

Monday, April 23, 2007

A Lesson Learned

I wrote a few days ago about punishment and how difficult it is to appropriately punish a child so that they actually learn something. Well, Boy #1 learned a lesson today and I didn't even have to lift a finger - I just had to let him do what he wanted.

Let me start by saying that Boy #1 thinks he is invincible. He follows rules, mostly, but if there is ever a loophole or he thinks I'm not going to enforce a rule, it is out the window. Like the "Don't ride your bike without a helmet" rule that was called into question last week when he wanted to ride about a mile to a friend's house but couldn't find his helmet. I think he thought not being able to find the helmet made it acceptable to still ride the bike. Um, wrong. Additionally, he follows the buddy rule when walking home from school, unless he can't find his buddy, and then he'll just walk home alone.

This story isn't about personal safety - I brought that up to show that he thinks that consequences are for other people, and he is pretty much immune from head injuries or kidnappers or whatever. Apparently he thought that he would also be immune to the perils of a common childhood accident - the sleepover.

Here in our area, sleepovers are not too common. They've been replaced by the "late night" wherein kids get to hang out until later at night, but then go home and sleep in their beds, thus ensuring that sleeping actually happens. The prevailing opinion amongst the moms my age is that a late night gets all the benefits of a sleepover, without the potential dangers, like sleep deprivation, or having to pick up a scared kid at 2 a.m., or the crazy things that teenagers think up in the middle of the night. When a General Authority said that nothing good happens after midnight, I think he was pretty much right on. So the idea is that we never start with the sleepovers and then it won't ever be an issue.

That's fine for all of the moms that are my contemporaries. The problem comes in with Boy #1's friends, all of whom are either the youngest in their family or have substantially older siblings, so the parents of these friends are 10+ years older than me. And that must be the generational difference between the pro- and anti-sleepover factions, because they don't seem to have any problem with sleepovers.

So yesterday Boy #1 announces that he's been invited to sleep over at a friends house. Probably I should have stuck to my guns and said, regardless of what your friends are allowed to do, the most you can have is a late night. But instead, I told him I was okay with it, although in my mind I really wasn't. I warned him that his friend's family stayed up much later than he does, and that they sleep in, which my kids seem genetically unable to do, but he assured me that he would be fine. I told him not to stay up too late, to try to actually get some sleep, and he said he would.

Every parent on the planet knows how this story is going to end. Possibly every person who ever slept over as a child/teen knows the outcome too. I've never, ever seen a child look so miserable when he got home this morning around 10. Honestly, he looked like I feel when I've been woken up by kids all night after going to bed at midnight and then not being able to fall back asleep. To put it mildly, it looked like he'd been beaten with a stick, only without the bruises. His eyes were half closed and he walked really slowly, like every step caused him pain. I don't know when I've ever been able to empathize more! I feel that way all the time!

The only reason I really did feel some compassion for him is because he's never done this before. I asked him what time he went to bed, and he didn't know. I asked him what time was it the last time he looked at a clock, and he said 11:00. Note that standard bedtime for him is 9:15. So I'm guessing he went to bed at 12ish. I asked him what time he woke up, and he said 6:00. He said that he had to sleep in a sleeping bag on the floor and he was so uncomfortable that he couldn't stay asleep. His friend, on the other hand, is a regular sleeper-inner so I knew the answer when I asked, "Did you wake up before your friend?" He said yes, and I remembered the misery of being awake at someone else's house while they are still asleep, and waiting for what feels like eternity for them to wake up so I could finally get up too.

He said he didn't feel too good, his stomach hurt, and he wanted to go to bed. I didn't see him again for 2 1/2 hours. This is another pretty rare occurrence, because my kids are as unable to nap past a certain age as they are to sleep in. He must have been truly miserable. The misery didn't end there, as he spent pretty much the entire day sitting in front of the television, doing nothing. Even when a friend came over, they sat. And every time I went in the room and shut off the tv and told them to find something to do, they'd be outside or downstairs for 5 minutes before I'd hear the tv on again. He went to bed early that night, and the next day he was still a little off, although not as bad as the day before. He must have his father's genes - it took DH a full 48 hours to recover from his 24 hour campout the weekend before. Heaven forbid men ever gain the ability to bear children - they could never handle it.

The only reason I felt the least bit of compassion towards him is that he has never gone on a sleepover before. I knew that there was no way I could convince him of the pain and misery involved in not getting enough sleep - after all, he's watched me this whole pregnancy and heard me say that I barely slept last night, so be really good so I don't yell at everyone for no reason. He theoretically could have seen from my example or my teachings that the logic of going to bed too late, sleeping on the floor, and waking up really early combine to make anyone atrociously tired the next day. But I know in the deepest recesses of my heart that he would not have believed me. He would have said that he'd go to sleep earlier, or he wouldn't have a problem sleeping on the floor, or of course he'd sleep in.

So that's why I let my child suffer through a thoroughly preventable incident. I am hoping that he learns a lesson from this. That he will remember the consequences of this action, and it will be enough to prevent him from asking to do it again. That it will leave enough of a scar that when Boy #2 asks for a sleepover, Boy #1 can say with all confidence, You'd be happier with a late night.

But I'm a mom. And I'm getting a little cynical. I know it's just a matter of time before he asks again, and I have the same dilemma of, Do I say no and have the whole family feel the reverberations of his choice? Or do I say yes and let him suffer again? When it comes time for Boy #2 to go through the same ritual, do I stop it or let it happen? I'm leaning towards making a blanket rule of no sleepovers. At least while Boy #1 can remember the pain of this incident, he will be supportive. But I know it will seem less and less painful to him as time goes on, so I have a feeling that this is one lesson we're going to have to revisit.

A Quiz, and A Review (or two)

I mentioned earlier that I was a mentor for a team involved in the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, the business plan competition that I competed in two years ago and came in as a runner up. The team that I was assigned to had a fairly cool product, nothing earth-shattering necessarily but a new technology in an old product that seemed promising. What the heck do I know, though, the team didn't even make the finals. I figured the competition must be pretty stiff this year for them not even to make the top ten, and I was right about that at least.

I got a ticket to attend the awards banquet, which DH was super-excited about, because last time the food was, apparently, fantastic. All I can remember from the last time was being a complete nervous wreck, and I don't remember enjoying anything until I got the $5,000 check. So DH, who normally is so anti-social that anything that includes 30 minutes of networking over hors d'ouevres would be the equivalent of getting shards of glass in his eye, told me to get a ticket for him too and we'd make a date of it. Yeah, the food is that good.

So we got a sitter for Thursday and started our 5 hour long date. You know, when we were dating and before we had kids, the date really was about where we were going or what we were going to do. Now, the 45 drive to the University of Utah is as much the destination as anything. We kept marvelling over the fact that we could talk without being interrupted. Honestly, we could have gotten Wendy's take out and sat in the parking lot for 5 hours and it would have been just as satisfying to me, being able to complete my thoughts!

We grabbed some hors d'ouevres and punch (I love punch!) and mingled with each other during the social 1/2 hour, then slowly made our way to the banquet hall downstairs. Because we were among the last to get down there (and I took a bathroom break on the way) most of the tables were full already. Which was fine with us - we grabbed a table on the edge of the room and it just so happened that nobody sat with us. Even better! No need to make polite chit-chat with people that we don't know and who, most likely, don't care about us any more than we do about them. Although I'm sure they would have been lovely people.

No, instead we got to sit and continue to talk to each other over our dinner of steak and mashed potatoes and vegetables. The salad was served in a bowl made of parmesan cheese and herbs, which tasted fantastic. (DH asked me what the bowls were made of, and I told him I knew how to make those bowls and he said, Yeah, I know how to make a car, too, you just put the parts together in the way they go. I replied, Yes, but if you gave me some cheese I could actually make one of those bowls. I don't know if he was impressed or not.)

Here's the real reason that DH wanted to go to the dinner so badly - they set the dessert on the table before we ever sat down. He desperately wanted to be the only one at the table, so that he could have his choice of desserts. Tonight's dessert was cheesecakes - slices of regular cheesecake swirled with strawberry, or some kind of chocolate-raspberry cheesecake which wasn't as good as it looked. I think we probably had 5 slices between the two of us. It was so fun and relaxing to be there and eat whatever we wanted and just sit and talk, we had a fantastic time.

There was a point to the evening, however, and here's where your quiz comes in. They awarded $40,000 to the first place team in the Entrepreneur Challenge, and $5,000 to the 2 runners-up. We were given a program with a little write-up of each participating company, so DH and I tried to decide who we thought would be the winner. And for your entertainment, here are your choices.

1. The company that makes and sells gear (apparel, balls, etc) for street soccer players. Their products are available in some stores currently.
2. The company that makes a 3-wheeled scooter which maneuvers like a motorcycle but is cheap, safer than 2-wheelers, and environmentally friendly. Reminded me of the Segway, with a seat. Has a working prototype.
3. The company that has a patented technology to create ethanol out of algae from the Great Salt Lake, which is 171 times more efficient than corn-made ethanol.
4. The company that gives away free personalized domain names that are to be used as a home page, collecting all of your accounts (myspace, blogs, flickr, etc) into one easy-to-remember webpage, such as for example. Basically eliminates the need to bookmark individual pages.
5. The company that manufactures and sells racks to hold large, heavy items such as tires and propane tanks. Their products are currently in use at some tire stores.
6. The company that has invented a new way to clean environmental messes, such as chemical spills, etc.
7. The company that is a research lab to help pharmaceutical companies et. al. do FDA required testing.
8. The company that makes legal software for do-it-youselfers, who make their will or other documents and then get it reviewed by actual lawyers.
9. The company that automatically sends marketing tools to clients, like birthday cards/thank you cards, brochures, etc.
10. The company that creates a website for colleges and high school students to more easily find each other. Students post profiles that colleges can search to find recruiting prospects and colleges post profiles for students to be more interested in their school.

Those are your top ten finalists! Pick which ones you think would be the best winner and runners-up and ponder that while you read some reviews of books and movies that I've found recently. Then I'll give you the winners at the end.


The Pursuit of Happyness

I haven't seen the movie yet, but it must be better than the book, if only for the fact that the book uses the f-word so many times you start to think that it is the only word this guy and his acquaintances knows. The book details his abusive childhood, his horrible stepfather, the mistakes his family makes in dealing with the situation, all of which combine to make him say, "My life will not be like this. I will be a father to my children." Which of course doesn't stop him from cheating on his wife and having children out of wedlock (at least, I can't remember if he married the mother of his children or not... If he did he divorced her too, I know they didn't stay together.) But he does make being a father a priority, which is admirable, and works very hard to create a good life for himself and his family. You know the ending, he ends up as a multi-millionaire, and you have to love endings like that. It is uplifting to hear any story where hard work and perseverance can take you from abused childhood and homelessness to more money than you know what to do with, especially because it can only happen in America. I'd say, pass on the book unless you can handle that much foul language (it's seriously bad in parts) but I'd guess the movie makes the point just as well.

The Prestige

Another movie that I haven't seen, but have read the book. It was interesting, not quite captivating but the plot moved along enough that it kept me hooked the whole time. I kept thinking it would make a really boring movie, though, so I need to watch the movie and see how they changed the book. It was about 13 hours long, and the last 6 minutes were so terrifying that it kept me up that night, scared to leave my room. Seriously, 13 hours of average, 6 minutes of terror? You'd think if the author was capable of evoking this much emotion he'd do it a little more often in the book than just right at the end. It didn't help that I polished it off late at night right before bed and had to wake up with Boy #3 at 1 a.m. I'd say if you've got a credit to spare, or can get it for free somehow, it would be worth a listen, but I don't know that I'd tell you to spend money on it.

Left to Tell, by Immaculee Ilibagiza

A fascinating true story of a woman who survived the Rwandan genocide in 1994. She and a pile of other women hid in a bathroom for months at a time, while I went to my senior prom and graduated and went on a trip to the Mall of America. The most surprising part of the story, to me, was that I was alive when this was happening and knew nothing about it. Granted, I was 17 at the time, full of self-centeredness and before I had ever read a newspaper from start to finish on a regular basis. But seriously, this is the kind of thing I assume happened during the Holocaust 60 years ago, not now that we are all civilized people who have learned our lessons. It makes me wonder about the Darfur situation and what role regular people have in demanding that something be done. And what role governments should play in interfering with a country's civil war - it seems like we get in trouble if we interfere, and we get in trouble if we don't. This book showed me that there's a lot of thinking to be done on this subject. Very inspiring story, I would absolutely recommend it.


The Illusionist

This was a movie which my neighbors lent us, and we really enjoyed. It was entertaining and suspenseful with some nice twists. The best part, though, is that the audio commentary tells you how each trick was done, which is great because otherwise I was convinced that the whole thing was just computer generated images. Nope, every trick was done as much as possible the way a real magician would do it, although some things were done in 3D just for budget's sake. Very cool, I really liked that one.

Stranger Than Fiction

This Will Farrell-Emma Thompson movie was one that I really wanted to see when it was in the theaters, but we didn't make it. Will Farrell plays an IRS auditor who all of a sudden starts hearing a voice narrating his life, which is disturbing enough before he hears that he is about to die. I love both Will Farrell and Emma Thompson, who plays the narrator, but it's kind of a shame that Will Farrell didn't get to at least smile in the majority of the movie. He is somber and sedate most of the time, which is disappointing, but I liked the movie even for that. This one is worth renting.

Books I Have Started But Couldn't Finish, Just In the Last 5 Months

The Janson Directive, by Robert Ludlum

Why don't I believe the reviews on Audible? When every one of them says that it is long and drawn out with lots and lots of minute detail that is unnecessary, bogging down an otherwise decent storyline, why do I insist on wasting a credit on that? Am I trying to prove everyone else wrong? Or just to join ranks with my fellow long-winded writers? Just because I write that way myself doesn't mean I want to read it. I made it about halfway through the 20.5 hour torture-fest.

Water for Elephants

This book had promise, it was a seriously-hyped book, but I got turned off after a particularly descriptive sex scene followed by some bad language, all in the first 2 hours. It wasn't a premise that really captivated me either, an old man reminiscing about his days working with a traveling circus. My general rule of thumb, and not one that I can stick to all the time, is that if it is too vulgar to listen to in the car with my kids, or if I'd freak out if I found my 9 year old listening to it, I try to avoid the book. This one would have met the 9-year-old-freak-out requirement.

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Country, Volume 1

How this author has the audacity to assume that enough people were willing to sit through the first interminable volume and would naturally be clamoring for more is beyond me. The story of a group of scientists and philosophers in colonial America who buy an African princess and her son in order to run tests on them to prove whether or not black people/slaves had the same capacity for intelligence as white people. The book tries to prove that, yes, the son is very smart, but the author does it by having him use ridiculously flowery language and high-falutin' words that this fairly intelligent white person barely understood. Does that mean something? I'm not sure, all I know is it was painful to listen to and I don't think I even made it halfway. At one point I realized that I had accidentally hit the back button on my ipod and was listening to a section for the second time - it took me about 20 minutes to realize it, though, because it all sounded new to me.

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn

I am not a classics reader, and this book is the one that proved it. I had to sit through a 5 or 10 minute introduction to the book by some other famous writer, who found this book so influential and inspiring that she named her child after the girl in the book. Whose name I can't even remember because the book was so boring I wanted to scream! We were reading this for our book group, and I got about halfway through. At the meeting, everyone filled me in on the details of the rest of the plot, and I have to tell you that they made it sound much more interesting than it really was.

The Places In Between

I don't know that I made it more than an hour into this yawn-fest. A story of a man who walked across Afghanistan and various other dangerous countries right after 9/11. You'd think with all of the potential of this guy to get shot, or kidnapped, or tortured, or something, that the book would be more interesting, but sadly, as far as I got it was just a guy taking a walk.

So now that you've had time to ponder your top ten finalists in the Utah Entrepreneur Challenge, let me give you my prediction. I thought the winner would be:

3. The company that has a patented technology to create ethanol out of algae from the Great Salt Lake, which is 171 times more efficient than corn-made ethanol.

It's a popular, environmentally friendly idea that has broad potential for actually helping the world be a better place. I thought a runner up would be:

6. The company that has invented a new way to clean environmental messes, such as chemical spills, etc.

This team won a technology award for their process, so I thought they'd probably score well in this competition too. I've had this idea in my head since the first time I participated in the competition that tech companies have an advantage over traditional companies, because they are more cutting edge. After all, no one wants to invest in a new beauty salon or grocery store, they want to put their money in something with huge growth potential. Two years ago, the winning team was a bio-medical device that cost $3 to make and sold for $300, and everyone in the country needs like two of them. The money there was huge. Compared to that, I was really surprised that an animation studio (or the other runner-up, a pool table importing company) would be popular at all. I assumed that the competition just wasn't that stiff in my year, or we wouldn't have made it.

Turns out, that's not necessarily true. Here are the winners for this year:

1st runner-up: Calle - 1. The company that makes and sells gear (apparel, balls, etc) for street soccer players. They took the grand prize in the BYU competition, which means they already had netted $50,000. For soccer balls??? Really???

2nd runner-up: Mobile OX - 4. The company that gives away free personalized domain names that are to be used as a home page, collecting all of your accounts (myspace, blogs, flickr, etc) into one easy-to-remember webpage, such as for example. Basically eliminates the need to bookmark individual pages. Okay, is bookmarking pages and going to each one individually that much more work than having them all on one page? I still might try it, though... It's free after all.

Grand Prize winner: - 10. The company that creates a website for colleges and high school students to more easily find each other. Students post profiles that colleges can search to find recruiting prospects and colleges post profiles for students to be more interested in their school. Apparently there is something to be said for this company, although I don't see its importance. They are already in talks with some other company to be bought out.

I was really surprised by these results - nothing really earth-shattering, but definitely trendy. Social networking sites and gathering places seem to be all the rage, and I wonder if this is not the start of another internet bubble, because really, how are these companies proposing to make any money? MobileOX claims they make money through their search engine, and that their cost per user is ridiculously small. But Zinch? Do colleges have to pay to access the information about students or to post their profiles or something? There must be something I'm missing. Maybe the tech companies had really poorly written plans, or bad business models, or something to rule them out. Because if a soccer ball and clothing company can beat a company that is trying to improve the world with a cheaper gas-alternative, there must have been a fundamental flaw in their plan. Well, at least the dinner was really good!

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Reflection Time

It's time to do a little reflecting, in this case on punishment for children. If you were raised in my family, you would have known the topic of this discussion after just reading the title, because "Reflection Time" was, in fact, a type of punishment in our household.

Reflection Time had it's inauguration when I was 15 and went out with some friends who had just graduated that day. I hadn't really ever gone out like this before, and since there wasn't a formal curfew in place at the time, my parents told me to "be reasonable." I thought 1:15 a.m. was perfectly reasonable for a school night! Okay, in all honesty, somewhere around midnight I recognized that I was going to be in big trouble when I got home, but we were at some restaurant like 45 minutes away when I had that thought, and I was with a bunch of people for whom this wasn't an issue, and having never been in a situation like this before, I didn't know what to do.

Similarly, when my parents were lecturing me the next day, they kept pointing out things that any logical person (read: not a teenager) should have taken into account. Like the fact that originally I was given permission to go to Friendly's but they were already closed when we were going to go there. Also, when one of my friends called her parents to make sure the change of plans was acceptable, they told her that it wasn't acceptable and to come home. Both of those things (plus the fact that she called home to check in) should have been a gigantic red flag about what makes a reasonable time to come home.

In lieu of the typical "grounding" that my friends got, my parents got creative and relegated me to "Reflection Time." Reflection Time was essentially grounding, in that I wasn't allowed to go out with my friends anywhere for two weeks, but by calling it Reflection Time, my parents' goal was to make me think about what I had done wrong, and hopefully convince me never to do it again.

Would a typical grounding without the additional emotional element have made the same impression as Reflection Time? I kind of think so, just because it was pretty rare for me to screw up quite so badly and I have always had a fairly strong conscience. I have never needed much to make me feel guilty. (For example, getting rid of stuffed animals as a child was akin to selling my children - I was convinced that they felt the sting of betrayal through their fluffy coats, and the hilt of the knife in their cottony backs.) An interesting development, though, was that my friends all thought my parents were great for giving a punishment that showed so much thought and creativity - I think it must have signified that they cared more than everyone else's grounding parents.

Here's the situation that is causing me to reflect on punishments. Boy #2 woke up surly and hasn't ever shaken it today. He was fighting with everyone in sight by the time I woke up at 7:15, and screaming at everyone to boot. I got him to eat breakfast at 8:00 but only after another screaming fit. When I requested that he get his church clothes on at 9:30 before he was allowed to play a video game, it was a nuclear meltdown, and I told him that he was banned from the computer today. The screaming and kicking didn't end, though, and DH took away the Lego Star Wars CD and told him it was off limits until some time to be determined.

Boy #2 was fine the rest of the morning and at church, but when he came home he barely ate anything and started fighting again. A parent can only be yelled at so many times before they just snap, is my opinion, and Boy #2 got there quickly. The final straw (after many previous straws that I won't get into here) was when #2 was playing Whac-a-Mole, which is a video game that you plug into the tv, and Boy #3 wanted a turn. A turn was given, but then #2 attempted to grab the controller out of #3's hand, which of course he wasn't letting go of. Boy #2 started yelling at #3 and after I told him to let go of it, #2 screamed "Fine!" threw the controller back to #3, and then kicked him as he stomped past.

So now we are faced with the responsibility of punishing our own kids, and it is not easy. We have to find a punishment that fits the crime, that is serious enough to teach a lesson but not Draconian, that I will enforce, and that won't be punishing me.

I spent a long time last year listening to my next door neighbor threaten her kids with the withdrawal of their video gaming privileges for whatever infraction she witnessed. It started to get old, at least in my mind, and I wondered how long the same punishment would be effective. Apparently, forever. It only took owning Lego Star Wars for about 15 minutes before I was ready to threaten to take it away, and it has similarly turned into the punishment du jour at our home.

The problem is, it works. It is the only thing that Boy #2 puts any value on, other than candy. But we can't take away candy, since he has to have it first, and if he has it, it's already been eaten. So candy is the bribe, and now Lego Star Wars is the threat. (DH and I went to a lecture on parenting by a psychologist who specializes in parents and children, and he said it was perfectly acceptable to bribe, so we happily embrace that dogma.) Boy #2 has always been hard to get to do things he doesn't want to do, because he was never easily swayed by the removal of privileges. Until Lego Star Wars came along, that is.

So we took away all computer and video game privileges for a week. And I feel horrible about it. I felt horrible immediately, although I can't tell whether it's because of the punishment being too harsh or because I wish that I hadn't gotten so mad at him in the first place. If he didn't push my buttons so well, would I have gotten so mad that I took away the thing he likes most?

What about my role in the situation? Have I given him enough guidance to help him learn how not to behave? If my parents had said "Be home at 11" I have little doubt that I would have told my friends I needed to be home by 11, and they would have been respectful of that, I think. Of course, all of us were new at the teenager-going-out situation, after that there was no chance that my parents would let any of their kids decide what a reasonable time to be home was. So what is my responsibility here?

DH and I talked about it, and it seems like the day that starts badly never gets better, so we decided to institute an Eat-First-Play-After rule for first thing in the morning, not knowing if this is going to solve the problem but it shouldn't hurt. My poor kids, having to deal with parents feeling their way through parenting. The only upside is that my parents were learning on me, and it took me until I was like 30 and doing it myself to realize it. So maybe it won't scar him too much!

Today is now Tuesday, and here's the update. We've had two days of all the boys playing outside for hours at a time. Boy #2 has eaten breakfast immediately after waking for the last two days, and has had no complaints or fights about it at all. Could it be that by letting him decide to "be reasonable" about when he ate breakfast was too much responsibility for him? Possibly, but it could still just be a novelty, the jury's still out. Today he was a little grouchy when he had to run errands with me instead of playing with friends, but nothing that I couldn't handle. Another bonus, he doesn't complain at all, not for one single second, about not being able to play his video games. I'm not sure what lesson to take out of all of this reflecting, all I know is that it's really hard to be a parent!

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Lessons Learned During a Pizza Hut Dinner

1. There is no end to how much food a 9 year old will try to eat in one bite. And remain fully convinced that of course he's chewing with his mouth shut!
2. The floor under the dining room table will be littered with pepperoni. I can't remember ever dropping a whole pepperoni on the floor, let alone several, but then again, I don't prefer to eat my pepperoni on the side.
3. Crusts are for handles only. They are UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES to be eaten.
4. The same children who refuse to eat their crust will have absolutely no problem eating a breadstick, which is basically just crust with cheese.
5. The child who refuses to eat a breadstick at the table will have absolutely no problem eating a breadstick outside on the swingset. Yes, you guessed it, we haven't had nearly enough swingset injuries lately, I'm trying to beef up my blog entries by encouraging a choking incident.
6. When a child requests "Cookie Bubbles" he's really asking for "Fruity Pebbles." This is the reason I'm pursuing an advanced education, to figure out stuff like that. Which has nothing to do with Pizza Hut, but I thought I'd throw that in there.
7. Somewhere around age 8, it turns into some kind of pre-manhood contest to see just how much of a pizza a boy can eat. Today's attempt: 6 1/2 slices from a medium pizza. He chickened out at number 7. Oh, and one breadstick.
8. You can't hide Pizza Hut from a dieting husband. You can only hope he comes home from his campout either happy enough that he doesn't care, or grouchy enough that he's grateful.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Hello, My Name is Inigo Montoya

Ah, the Princess Bride, what a great movie. Boy #1 has seen it, but I don't think the other two have. It doesn't matter, though, all three of them channel the spirit of Inigo Montoya.

I'm talking about the way that Inigo goes after the 6-fingered man with a single-minded tenacity. There are times when my kids do the same thing - of course not with such noble tendencies. It's as if they have been endowed with a mission from their dead father to avenge him by, for example, demanding a hot dog. Let me show you today's example.

This morning I was in the bathroom, getting dressed and ready for the day. The door was locked, because I'm not stupid, and Boy #3 walks up and knocks on the door.

Boy #3: Mom!
Me: What?
Boy #3: Mom!
Me: What?
Boy #3: Mom!
Me: What!!?
Boy #3: Mom!
Boy #3: (doesn't say anything)
I think I'm safe, but it doesn't last.
Boy #3: Come here, Mom!
Me: Hold on a minute.
Boy #3: Mom, Come here!
Me: Hold on a minute!
Boy #3: Come here, Mom!
Boy #3: (doesn't say anything)
I hear him walking away in my room, then I hear him banging stuff around. Shortly, there's a knock again.
Boy #3: Mom!
Me: Hold on.
Boy #3: Mom! Come here!
Me: Hold on!
Boy #3: Come here!

The scene repeats itself tonight at bedtime, when he wants to eat a hot dog. Unfortunately, there are no hot dogs in the house.

Boy #3: I want a hot dog.
Me: There aren't any hot dogs. Do you want a peanut butter sandwich instead?
Boy #3: I want a hot dog!
Me: They're all gone. Can I get you something else?
Boy #3: I want a hot dog!
Me: Honey, there aren't any hot dogs! No hot dogs! Get it?
Boy #3: I want a hot dog!
Me: How about a cup of juice?
Boy #3: Hot Dog!
Me: Milk?
Boy #3: Hot Dog!
Me: What do you think, I can magically conjure a hot dog out of thin air? There are no hot dogs in the whole entire house, and no matter how many times you ask there will still be no hot dogs! I am not a hot dog factory, I cannot produce for you a hot dog! Do you understand? No hot dogs!
Boy #3: I want a hot dog!

I know how the six-fingered man felt when Inigo kept saying "Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya, you killed my father, prepare to die." I would have been thinking "Go ahead - death would be better than this!"

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

A Rose By Any Other Name

I had a lot of time to reflect on some things this morning at 2:40 when I heard #3 downstairs crying because he couldn't turn the television on. I collected him, got him a cup of juice (oh, he is a spoiled child) and took him back to his bed. He fell asleep quicker than I did, most likely because he didn't have a topic for a blog churning around in his brain like I did.

We need to decide on a name for Baby Girl #1. I recognize that her arrival is 8 1/2 weeks away (or 6 1/2 if she is like #3, but I'm not planning on that) but this is the latest we've gone without a named child. DH and I agreed on a name before I even got pregnant, and it is a name that we chose for two reasons. A) It is cute and we like the sound of it. B) It has family meaning. Reason A is more important to us, and Reason B is just nice, a bonus in my mind. We wouldn't say that we require a name to be a family name, especially when I come from a family of Connecticut farmers with names like Chester and Calvin (no disrespect intended) and DH comes from a family of Russian Jews (Diemshitz, anyone?). So when we've found family names that fit into modern society, full of Madisons, Jacobs, and Taylors, we think it's great.

The name we agreed on 8+ months ago is Darcey. A family name, yes, but a cute girl's name too. According to the Fount of All True Information (the Internet), Darcey means "dark" and is either Gaelic or French in origin. It also is referenced as a Norman place name, and has literary roots in Austen's Pride and Prejudice. It is a unique name, but not totally out there. Every teacher will know how to pronounce it, but she won't have 6 other girls in her class with the same name. When I yell for her at McDonald's, she'll be the only one who answers. She won't be able to find her name on a magnet or pen, which was a serious issue for me as a child. Today's kids, though, are named all sorts of wacky things so it shouldn't be too weird for her. What a great, original but not weird name!

The problem came the day of my ultrasound, when I found out that I was having a girl. All of a sudden, I wasn't able to commit to the name. I finally had the chance to name a girl, something I had thought about for 10 years since I was pregnant the first time. When you are stuck in the land of boy's names, girl-name-land looks like the most luscious place in the world! Girl's names can be unique and original, whereas a boy's name could be the source of constant ridicule and playground beatings. (That's the fear, anyway.) Did I really want to limit myself to the first name we thought of, when there's a universe of cute girl names to explore? Of course not! Darcey was relegated to the status of "Acting First Name," a placeholder until we agreed on an official name.

So now I'm 7 months pregnant, with an Acting First Name and no prospects of a replacement. DH loves the name, is fully ready to commit, but was willing to humor me. The problem comes as I'm looking for names. None of them are cute enough, they are all completely over-used, and I can list six kids with each one. I did like one name, Abigail, and I've always liked the name Elizabeth (for a middle name, I think). DH agreed to either of those names as a middle name but wasn't crazy about it for a first name. I thought maybe the problem was that I was looking on my own for names, and was afraid that if I presented a list to DH he would reject them out of hand.

But when DH and I looked at names together, the pickings were just as slim. And we had the added burden of DH needing to comment on each name. Emma -too close to Emily. Olivia, Hannah, Alexis, Ashley, Kaitlyn, Madeline, Audrey, Isabel - all kids in the neighborhood. Sophia, Isabella, and Olivia - too ethnic. Then there are the celebrities: Alyssa? Milano. Sydney? Girl from Alias. Jasmine? Aladdin. Julia? Goolia. (From The Wedding Singer) Trinity? The Matrix. Boys #1 and #3 were sitting in the kitchen, and started chanting "No!" after each name, because that's all they've heard the whole time. Also, there was the obligatory mocking. "Deborah" needed the extra "h" sound at the end enunciated, so it was pronounced "Deb-or-a-hah" which of course meant that Boys #1 and #3 now were adding a "hah" to the end of every name. Glad to see that everyone can have such a sense of humor about the whole thing.

We went through many years' worth of popular-name-lists, and tried our hand at looking up unique names based on first letter. We tried "D" just to start, and after Dalia, Daffodil, Dacia, Dalena, Dafna, and several unpronounceable ones, we realized that we weren't going to find anything that way. Darcey starts to look a lot better. We discussed the fact that we seem to shun popular names, so maybe we are looking for a name with more meaning. So what about names that mean something? Like from a book, or a historical figure, Biblical, or whatnot. We sat and thought, and got nothing. Eventually DH said, go find out if Darcey is the name of a famous queen or something, maybe that would be enough to put me over the edge.

I did check Google to make sure there are no criminals with our daughter's potential name: Apparently there's a girl raising money for Asthma, a Syracuse University student on the dean's list, and the wife of a great guy named Dennis. When I looked up my own name on Google, it took until the 5th page of results to see the real me (and no, I'm not the one asking what tattoo would look best in that spot). I appear once on page 6, and then I give up on page 10. I am not listed at all under my maiden name. Wow, I thought with all of the privacy issues that people are always whining about, I'd have a little less privacy than I expected... but sheesh, it's like I don't even exist!

So those are my rambling thoughts on naming a girl. DH wants me to commit now that I've sowed my wild oats with other girl names, but I don't know if I'm ready to settle down. Feel free to send in your suggestions, but know that they will be ridiculed and compared to everyone we've ever known.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Showers, Injustice, and the Question I Really Didn't Want an Answer To

Yesterday some of my friends threw me a baby shower, since Child #4 happens to be Girl #1. I wonder how I'm going to abbreviate that, I can't just say #1 because we already have a #1, and saying #4 misses the uniqueness of the girl factor. We'll have to see. Anyhow, it was nice, the shower. I was in a particularly foul mood because not only was I tired from staying up too late but I also had to get up early with the kids while DH slept in. (No, this isn't the injustice section, although I certainly thought so.) So because of the bad mood, it was better for the family for me to leave for a little while and eat some desserts and talk to my friends.

(As an aside, DH was trying to cheer me up and said, "Aren't you excited to get a shower today?" I said, "Yes, I didn't get one at all yesterday, and the day before it was 2:00 before I showered!" He says, "No, I meant the baby shower..." "Oh, yeah, I'm excited about that too." Aside over.)

Boy, you'd think there was no other color in the world than pink! It was so fun to have a reason to own all of this pink, frilly, flowery stuff. It only made me regret (once again) that I still have 9 weeks until I can dress anyone in these clothes. Especially since none of it would fit the boys. Someone gave me a little beaded elastic bracelet, I swear, one inch in diameter. It's the cutest little pink thing you've ever seen! DH says that he likes the sole purple outfit best, because the color wasn't quite as threatening as the pink. Coming from a house that has only seen primary colors, I suppose I can understand that! Besides, I'm partial to purple myself.

My favorite part was not the gift opening, as surprising as that is. I love gifts, but when people are there, looking at you, and you've got to have the appropriate reaction and admiration for the gift, it's a little too much pressure. Especially after the sixth pink blanket, which granted is still cute, but it's hard to be original with praise at that point. No, my favorite part was the desserts. My friend knows some french bakery on State St. that makes some really great stuff. We had some "cigars" which were largish pastries filled with chocolate mousse, yum, and a lemon-strawberry charlotte, which was like a cake with lots of lemon filling. I was fortunate enough to take home some leftovers, and the lemon flavor just got stronger and better. And the strawberries! The black raspberry-chocolate charlotte was more disappointing, but I was fine with the lemon anyhow. My friend knows me! :)

We also played the obligatory baby shower game, although this was a unique one, as a relative of a friend had actually invented this game and is trying to sell it. It's called Uteranium, which is a combination of Cranium and Uterus, a game where you act, draw, or sculpt a pregnancy-related term and make your team guess the word. It was fun, but only because we all know each other really well - this game would have been massively uncomfortable with, say, older relatives there, or really anyone you aren't totally comfortable with. Some of the words, for example, were: hemorrhoids, urinalysis, circumcision, and nipple confusion. Some were more benign, like triple stroller and pregnancy test, but still. It's the kind of game that would be more fun really late at night, when your inhibitions are lowered, or after a few drinks if we were drinking kind of people. Like karaoke.


Out here in Utah County, the big thing is community Easter Egg Hunts. Each community sponsors one, and lots of businesses do their own too. People that go to these would try to schedule out which ones they will hit so as to squeeze as much free candy out of the county as possible. As a rule, I avoid things like this. It is the type of event that brings out the worst in people, especially parents, as they forget how it's supposed to be "fun" and instead turns into some kind of competition to see how much loot your 1 year old can haul in. When they have to warn people to be nice before the event starts, you know it's bad news. Additionally, I dislike being around so many people crammed into a small space (even when it's a football field) - even a dollar bill hunt wouldn't get me to go to one of these generally.

That being said, our family ended up at a community Easter Egg Hunt yesterday. We actually went to this one last year, also - it was sponsored by the Orem Owlz, our local minor league baseball team. Last year was their first year doing it, it was a little rainy, probably not well publicized, and done in the morning when there was competition from all the other hunts. So we showed up, played the carnival games, collected prizes, waited in no lines, and had a great time during the egg hunt. This year, other than the "showing up" part, it was exactly opposite.

The main problem, as I saw it, was that it was held at night, the only one in the whole valley that I know of that wasn't in the morning. So there was nothing holding back the hordes of insane freeloaders, the type to run over your grandmother at Wal-Mart at 4:30 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving in order to get a new 13" tv for $79. And I think Utah County has more than it's fair share of these types of people. Why, you may ask, don't you consider yourself one of them? You were there too, after all. Yes, that's true, we did go, and we were aiming to bring home some loot, but the difference is that we're fans. We like the Orem Owlz and go to lots of poorly attended functions of theirs to show our support. For many people, that was their first, and probably last, visit to their stadium.

Anyhow, we had the approximate population of Finland at the Orem Owlz stadium yesterday. We waited in line to enter behind about 200+ people (that's no exaggeration) and found the place just crawling with people. Tickets to the event were free if you picked them up in advance, or $1 each at the door, but most of the people that we saw had tickets. So it should have been no surprise to the event organizers how many people were going to attend. There were 12 "carnival" games set up around the stadium, things like see how fast you can throw a baseball (34 mph for Boy #1), throw a ball into a certain goal, bobbing for easter eggs, face painting, something with golfing, etc. And of course, the lines for these things were atrocious. Boy #1 wanted to do the radar gun baseball throw, so I went to stand in line for him, but after like 10 minutes DH came back from scouting out the rest of the place and we decided to forget the activities, do the egg hunt, and get the heck out of there. DH hates crowds as much as I do, maybe more.

So, to make a long story short (which I am generally not able to do) I will skip all of the excruciating details, such as the massive crush of people to get onto the field through the 3 foot wide gate, making me honestly fear a trampling. Here are the things that really bugged me:

1. The first group to hunt in their roped-off area were the 2-5 year olds, probably the most well-represented age group. And of course there were 1 year olds and probably 0 year olds in that group as well. The guy in charge announced that parents were not supposed to go with our children into the hunt area. Huh? I'm really going to let my 2 year old get lost in this crowd? I'm never going to see him again, and I'm pretty fond of this kid! So I, along with most parents, ignored that. I had no problem following that rule with the older kids, but for safety reasons, I could not fathom letting #3 go in that mob by himself. I'm sure it was a crowd control issue, but still. Be reasonable.

2. All of the age groups were given a 3- egg per person limit. Wow, way to sock it to the freeloaders, right? There were just so many kids there, clearly more than they had planned for, it wouldn't have been fair to let the kids just go at it and take whatever they want.

Or would it? The results of the 3-egg rule for our kids:

Boy #1 - Totally miffed at the stupidity of the rule. He could tell that this was a waste of time, and wouldn't have bothered if it was just for 3 eggs.
Boy #2 - Cried. Actual tears, not just a whiny tantrum.
Boy #3 - Ended up with only one egg, until a girl from our ward who had 4 eggs in her basket was told to give him one by her mom. He, who was short-changed the most, was also the least upset.

The result of the 3-egg rule for many other kids: A bag full of eggs, because they took advantage of the law-abiding hunters and grabbed as many as they could. I have no doubt that the older two boys would have ended up with many more eggs, but did not because we were following the rules. i was actually really proud of them, because they didn't have a parent standing next to them telling them to stop, they were obedient on their own and stopped at 3. Every kid I saw with a bag full of eggs, I wanted to kick. I was so ticked off at those kids. But, at the same time, I was ticked off with the people who made the dumb rule in the first place. With #3's age group, I can understand that the 5 year olds can totally kick the average 2 year old's butt. But for the other two, they could have either gotten a lot more, or not, but it would have been every kid for himself, and I really think even Boy #2 would have been mostly okay with that. #1 wouldn't have had a problem at all. Then the complaint would have been that there weren't enough eggs, or there were too many people, but instead their gripe was with following a rule that so many people flaunted.

There were other technical issues with the whole event, poor communication being the biggest one, but DH has some sympathy for the Owlz staff. They are a fairly new organization, I think this is their 3rd season, so they are basically feeling their way through a lot of things. They blow things big time occasionally, like the free shirt giveaway on Pioneer Day (a state holiday, and Boy #1's birthday) where the "rule" was the shirts were for children under 12, but they were giving them away to anyone, and we got there like 45 minutes early, waited in line forever to get in, and they had already run out of shirts like 100 kids in front of us. We saw people using their $2 grass-seating tickets to get the shirts and then leaving. (We ended up getting 2 shirts because we have season tickets, and they save promotional items for season ticket holders as a perk.) Anyhow, they do stuff wrong, and then hopefully learn from it, and do it better next time. He compares that to our little company, where we try things out and see if they work, and do it again if it does or not if it was a disaster. So he is sympathetic.

Me? I see his point, but I also have no intention of going to their hunt next year if it is in the evening. As for the kids, they survived their unhappy hunt experience, and the best part of the night for them was rolling down the hill in the grass seating area. And if I see any of those kids who had bags full of eggs, I just might kick them after all.

The Question I Didn't Want to Know the Answer To

So today I was sitting in the dining room while DH and #1 were in the kitchen. DH made up a true/false question for #1, who seemed to think we had turned the family into a quiz show and asked for some more questions. I figured that there's always a teaching moment available, so I started making up questions like "What would you do if you were at a friend's house and he wanted you to watch a movie you knew you weren't supposed to?" "What if you were at a party and..." and so on. I brought up the question I ask about every 6 months, because it scares me so much: "What would you do if you were at a friend's house and he showed you his dad's gun?" He gave the appropriate answer, which is run as fast as you can and find an adult, don't try to take it away from the kid, just get the heck out of there. I've been telling this since he was old enough to understand, maybe age 4 or so. Boy #2 also has had the training. Then #1 said the sentence that made my heart stop:

"So-and-so's dad and brother have guns. They keep them under their beds."

DH and I look at each other while we try to keep our eyeballs in our heads, and I say, really nonchalantly, "Oh, really? How did you find out about that?" Apparently So-and-so's younger brother came into the room, pointing it at them. (keep breathing, keep breathing!) "Oh? And what did you do?" Well, he told him to put the gun down, and then So-and-so went and told his dad. "So how long ago did this happen?" A long time, maybe a year or so.

Holy crap, how many times have I had this discussion with them? Literally, a week ago at Albertson's I talked to Boy #2 about it! This is not the kind of thing that I've never mentioned and so shouldn't be surprised when they do the thing that they didn't know was wrong. So as Dh and I try not to completely hyperventilate, we let #1 out to play in the backyard.

Why didn't he tell us when it happened? Because, in that grand pantheon that is 8-year-old logic, he knows that if he tells me, he won't be allowed to play with his friend anymore. Well, darn right he won't play with that friend anymore! Because the grand pantheon of 8-year-old logic doesn't include the equation that being shot is worse than having to play at my house. Nobody told me that being a parent would be this hard.

We bring all the kids inside to dye Easter eggs. (Note to anyone who cares: Egg dye stains! But you can get it off your hands with Windex.) As we sit around the table, I oh-so-casually ask #2 if he knew that that family had guns in their house. "Oh, sure, So-and-so's brother pointed it at us once." Okay, I'm trying to keep it together here, I dig some more and find out that #2 was there at the same time as #1, so this is one incident, not two. I asked him the same question, "What did you do when you saw the gun? Did you run and find an adult?" "No, he went and took it to his dad." At this point I'm about to jump into a lecture but DH is standing there with a video camera to try to capture our Easter memories for posterity and asks me to sit tight for a minute. He records, our lucky-to-be-alive children dye their eggs, and I sit. The lecture comes, but it's nothing they haven't heard before. We try to scare them a little, but neither are too easily intimidated by that subject, after all, they saw a gun up close, and lived to tell the tale.

So, parents, be careful what you ask. Ask, of course - it's always better to know. But be prepared for that answer you really didn't want to hear.

I Wouldn't Bother Reading This If I Were You

I started writing this post on Friday, with the intention of, you know, finishing it at some point that day. Apparently I was so tired and grouchy that nothing I wrote even seems remotely amusing to me, so read this at your own peril. Hopefully you don't end up as grouchy as me on any given day. That's my disclaimer, and I'm sticking to it.

6:10 - I wake up and see that the hall light is on, which means that Boy #3 is awake too early. I could get up, find him, corral him back into bed for an hour, but I think, what's the point? Bag it, I say, and go back to bed.

7:25 - Alarm clock goes off and I nudge DH awake (who, in addition to the white noise machine, also has earplugs to help him sleep through the night) and tell him to get up with the kids. He does and I fall back asleep.

7:50 - Boy #1 is off to school, so DH climbs back into bed and hugs me, which wakes me up. Not exactly what I intended by "get up with the kids" - I kind of had in mind more than 25 minutes of extra sleep. The kids are being good downstairs so we can stay in bed until 8:30, by which time I am seething, absolutely fuming over the fact that I'm awake and that he has the audacity to be touching me. Wait a sec, those are some pretty powerful emotions for not having had any contact with people yet today. I can only come to the conclusion that I DON'T WANT TO BE PREGNANT ANYMORE!!!!! I'm not an overly emotional person in general, but I've been crying and yelling, alternately, this whole week. Someone should just lock me in a closet for the next nine weeks.

8:30 - DH gets out of bed and I lay there, trying to think of things other than how irrationally angry I am. I think about how grateful the whole family probably is that I'm not interacting with them today, but that's not a cheerful thought. So I think maybe I'll call my parents - they are always fun to talk to, and I finally watched last Sunday's Amazing Race and we can discuss who got kicked off. But it's kind of a jerky thing to call someone and say, "I'm in a really horrible mood, so if you don't want to bear the brunt of it, you'd better start cheering me up right now." Then I think, maybe I'll blog this day, my dad has said it's been a while since I wrote about my day. Somehow that makes me slightly less grouchy and I think maybe the family can handle me if I get up now and try not to talk to people too much.

9:00 - I take Boy #2, who seems perfectly happy today, to school. He's turned into the shoe-tying pro, not only has he mastered the two-bunny-ear method but today figured out the one-bunny-ear method and yesterday, as he reported, he tied a triple knot! He and his carpooling friend trade stories about how many times they can tie a knot in their shoes. We've figured out that if we get to school only 3 minutes earlier than normal, we avoid almost any traffic in the parking lot/drop off area and today we sail through, a stroke of luck.

9:10 - I get home and Boy #3 wants a cup of milk. The bad mood is back when I look at the mountain of dirty dishes in the sink and the floor in the living room, which is littered with empty sippy cups. I know without looking that there are no clean sippy cups. And yesterday was my day to do dishes so I have no one to be mad at for that except me. Although it sure would have been nice if DH had done them for me yesterday... that's not fair and I'm back to being mad at myself. Grrr.

9:30 - I get an interesting phone call from Qwest saying that my recent order, to upgrade the speed of my internet, has been completed. That's funny, I didn't notice a blazing fast connection - it must be so fast that it seems slow! Ha ha, what are the chances. I go to CNET and do a bandwidth test, it claims that I'm functioning at 215 kbps. Just so everyone's clear, I used to have a 256 kbps connection, but I upgraded to 1.5 mbps which was supposed to be working on April 5 (yesterday). Yesterday we got an email claiming that our order is complete, so DH went to to test our speed to see if he can buy and watch baseball games on our computer. It was something like 125 kbps. I ask DH to give me that link and I'm testing it right now - looks like we're up to 192 kbps. All right, my favorite tech support family, what's going wrong here? Is someone going to tell me that, in fact, I need a new modem or router or something? or that it's because I'm using a wireless connection? Or could it be my internet filter slowing things down? Oh, I can feel that bad mood creeping in again... And if this leads to an actual phone call to a Qwest employee, it might push me over the edge. Keep the knives away from me.

10:00 - I check our own site and try to download a file - it's downloading at 25 kbps. I'm calling my dad.

10:05 - Dad's asleep, mom takes a message and asks if I am really okay with my brother coming to stay here all summer? I say, we're fine with it, I can't imagine why he'd think it'd be fun staying here with what will soon be 4 kids. The plan is for him to get a job for the summer, somewhere local so he can ride a bike there and so that he isn't sitting around the house all day. Right after I get off the phone, the washer repair company calls to say that the technician is on his way and will be there in a few minutes. I better get dressed.

10:30 - One of #3's friends comes over to be babysat and I send them outside with strict instructions to share and not fight and not hit. It goes like this: "Are you going to fight?" "Yes!" "No, no fighting! Are you going to hit?" "Yes!" "NO, no hitting! Okay, so are you going to hit?" "No." "That's right, no hitting."

10:33 - The friend is crying outside and I see him walking towards the house from the swingset. Another swingset induced accident? No, both boys agree that Boy #3 kicked him. I guess my instructions weren't explicit enough. Next time I'll include kicking and maybe poking in the eye. And any other 3 Stooges behaviors I can come up with.

10:45 - The repairman shows up and gets to work on the washer and dryer. At 11:10 - I get the verdict - $375 to repair both, but he says they are in good enough shape that they should last a while yet once these things are fixed. I figure when I'm ready to buy new appliances, I'm going to want the biggest capacity washer/dryer in existence, and that won't be cheap, so we'll fix this one this time.

11:20 - I call my dad who is now awake and he confirms that yes, this looks like the speed we ought to be getting. It has to do with the number of bits and bytes and divide by 8 when there's a full moon and that's how fast it's supposed to be. I tell him I was looking for blazing fast speed, and he says, well, it is blazing fast compared to what it was. I tell him it's like I was at turtle speed before and now I'm at turtle on amphetamine speed. But it's still a turtle. He suggested I try downloading a book from Audible and see how much faster that is. Now I'm second guessing myself as to how much of a difference the fiber optic network will make when it's installed - I've kind of looked at that as my internet salvation, but maybe I've got my expectations too high.

11:30 - My friend comes over to pick up her son. Fortunately he is no longer crying from when #3 was climbing on his couch and may or may not have stepped on him. We chat for a while about not getting enough sleep - she is also pregnant and has 3 kids already too so she is the perfect person to commiserate with.

12:00 - #3 is playing outside in the front yard so I prop the front door open and sit on the couch so I can see him out the window. We are waiting for some Home Depot gift cards that we got with our credit card rewards points to come in the mail so that we can buy a screen door. Until then, however, we are hoping that not too many bugs come in, or criminals for that matter. I had a neighbors cat come in yesterday - I'm not sure which DH would prefer, the cat, the bugs or the criminal (he really doesn't like cats).

12:15 - Boy #2 comes home and runs outside to water his plant - a sunflower seed in a cup that he brought home from school 3 days ago and has included in his prayers ever since. Also, I see a box of chicken broth out on the counter, with a half-full cup next to it. The cup might contain chicken broth, or it could contain apple juice, but I'm not willing to taste it and see. I leave it on the counter so I can interrogate every child who can speak well enough to possibly confess to drinking chicken broth. Not that they will get in trouble for it, it's mostly so I can laugh at them. Like the time I had a Propel water bottle filled with homemade salad dressing that I had warned #2 not to drink, but #1 had already taken a swig of and had to go spit and rinse his mouth out. That'll teach them to get into my stuff without asking!

12:30 - The repairman is finished and comes upstairs to settle up. Ends up being $400 after tax. I throw in a load of laundry and realize that I can't hear it! Hooray!

1:00 - DH comes home for lunch because the people who rented the office next door moved out yesterday, and took the microwave with them. Which he didn't realize until he had a bowl of oatmeal ready to put into the microwave. So he came home to eat and then took the car to the doctor's office to get some new allergy medicine. I didn't realize how lucky I was that I never have had allergies - I can see from DH and Boys #1 and #3 that they are miserable. He leaves and I turn on Judge Judy.

1:30 - I decide, since People's Court is a rerun, that I'll start working on my sharing time for sunday.

2:30 - DH comes home with the car from his doctor's appointment and a subsequent trip to the Orem Owlz box office to pick up tickets to tomorrow's Easter Egg Hunt there. The person he is working with (through our only client - he gets passed around to different employees there) is home sick today, so DH hasn't gotten an assignment from him, and it doesn't look like he's going to. Since we switched to the cell phone, the advantage is that he can be called at home if there is work to be done, and it looks like today he lucked out. So he decides not to go back into work, one of the few luxuries of self-employment.

He finds me looking at Qwest's website, trying to find an email address to ask someone there if they can confirm how fast my internet connection really is. I tried my dad's Audible download suggestion, and it was downloading at around 23 kbps. The same with everything else I downloaded today, and it feels like about the same as before, although I don't have documentation to prove that allegation. There doesn't look like there's any way to avoid actually calling and talking to a human, which I want to avoid at all costs, so eventually I find an email address under "Billing" and decide to take my chances with that. The automated response says they'll respond within one business day... but it's Friday ... so it will be Monday before they tell me there's nothing they can do.

3:00 - DH says he'll go grocery shopping for me if I make a list. Bingo! That's great! He is primarily trying to staunch the flow of junk food into the house, which I support, mostly. This is in response to my rant about my doctor making me feel bad about my weight gain. DH is very supportive of me, always has been, but is always watching what he eats because he gains weight like within minutes of eating an Iceberg shake. I told him that the bad-food situation would be better if I didn't buy it in the first place, and that if he did the grocery shopping that would stop a lot of it. I also said that I could give him my debit and credit cards to stop myself from going to, say, the gas station and loading up on junk there. But that sounds a little extreme, so we haven't gone there yet.

So I watch people's court while I make a shopping list, and I call out to DH a case about a woman who doesn't want to pay half of the electric bill because she claims that she doesn't use as much electricity as her roommate, as she comes home and sits in her dark room and doesn't watch tv or anything. The judge laughs at her, and so do we. But the next defendant reminds us of a particularly nasty client that we had last year, and DH tells me to hurry up with the list so he doesn't have to think about her. I send him on his way with a rather extensive but junk free list. As soon as he leaves I realize that there's no Easter preparations in the house, including egg-dyeing supplies or egg-filling candy (what I bought supposedly as easter candy is pretty much gone- don't tell me this hasn't happened in your house too once!)

4:30 - I get Boy #3 in the tub after a small argument, and start making Garlic Lime Chicken for dinner, which DH loves.

5:15 - I am 30 seconds away from having dinner finished, when I realize that I'm out of lime juice. I call my neighbor and miraculously she has a bottle. It, unfortunately, expired in April 2005. So if they find 5 bodies in our house tomorrow, you know why. Well, someone will probably not eat it and therefore survive.

5:20 - DH comes home with our Home Depot gift cards and a package of egg-dyeing supplies. One more reason I'm glad I married him. Oh, and $197 worth of groceries.

5:30 - Oh my gosh, someone mark the calendar, this is the second night this week that dinner was eaten by every opinion-bearing child without complaining! Earlier this week I made White Pizza which I haven't made in a while, and the kids - I'm not making this up - literally cheered when I told them! And they ate it like crazy, too. Of course, this is all a big set-up, so that next time I make White Pizza they are in prime position to mess with my head by not eating a single bite and whining that they hate this food, it's yucky, and can't we have a bowl of cereal instead?

6:00 - We all pile into the car and head to a BYU baseball game. It's been a while since we've been to a game - last September, I think. We remembered that Boy #1 loves the games and actually watches, Boy #3 sits really well for longer than we expect, and Boy #2 is ambivalent to the whole thing. It's funny how 7 months can change your perception of reality. In reality, Boy #1 watches, mostly. Boy #3 sits well for about 10 minutes, then gets in and out of his chair until we leave. But when he is sitting, he does actually pay some attention, he cheers and claps at appropriate times, although not necessarily for the correct team. Boy #2 is not ambivalent, he is pretty much anti-baseball games. Almost the first things out of his mouth are "I'm hungry" which I know is baloney because he ate dinner 45 minutes before. What he really meant was "I'm bored." And, "I don't want to be here." Also, "I need more attention than I'm currently getting, because everyone else in my family actually has the attention span to watch this boring game and I would rather they pay attention to me. Which I will get, one way or another." Not that he says anything but "I'm hungry" - the rest you have to read between the lines. We got to the game at 6:30 or so, paid $15 for a family pack of tickets, and left by 7:30, after about 3ish innings.

8:00 - We get home and get #2 in bed, and nothing else eventful happens as we get the other two to bed at 8:30 and 9. DH decides that this would be the perfect night to watch "The Illusionist," a movie we borrowed from our next door neighbors about 2 weeks ago and have yet to watch. Of course, by the time all the puttering around the house is finished (including me getting my pajamas on, the family room at least getting straightened up, laundry getting switched, etc.) we don't start the movie until 9:30. This is bad news, because I'm already contemplating what time I can get to bed, and thinking it should be soon, but I can't say that out loud, for a variety of reasons.

10:30 - The movie, which is good, is halfway over and the stupid dvd player chokes and won't continue playing the movie. Must not be up to it's high standards, after all, a dvd player can't be expected to play just anything can it? I say, this would be the perfect stopping point and we can watch the rest tomorrow, but DH says, But we're halfway through! I don't want to stop now! The grouchiness comes back, because this is a perfect example of two people being on completely different wavelengths. There is nothing in the whole entire world more important, in my mind, than me getting enough sleep. It's the reason I've been so grouchy and depressed and eating too much junk. Unfortunately, the only other family member who has any input into this situation doesn't quite grasp the importance of sleep. I mean, if you asked him, he'd tell you that I need more sleep, that I complain about it a lot, that he definitely knows how important that is. But when push comes to shove, I don't think that the actions always match up to the words. And it's tough for both of us, because it's not like I want to go to bed early every night - I like having some amount of time to talk to him without kids interrupting, and I instigate staying up too late as much as he does.

11:30 - We finish the movie and head to bed. It was a surprisingly good movie - I hadn't really heard about it, but it was a good one, I'd recommend it. And in the days since then, we started the audio commentary by the writer/director and it was surprisingly good too. I was starting to drift off towards the end of the movie but the ending totally woke me up, it was that good. We went upstairs and had to rehash the movie, then have the obligatory middle of the night conversation about something that seemed really important at the time but I can't remember what it was now, then read scriptures. By the time I went to bed it was 12:30. As an example of the pain this caused, I was so tired and grouchy all day Saturday that it isn't until now, Sunday afternoon, that I am finishing writing this, much to the consternation of my dad and brother, who I hear have been checking for updates to my blog every two minutes. So I'm rushing to polish this off and post it, although my guess is they have gone to bed by now anyways. Dad and little brother, this update's for you!