Sunday, April 26, 2009


Congratulations to our friends at BYU who graduate this week.

Including, but not limited to:

My brother, Stephen, who sang at graduation! He has a BA in Spanish Lit and will be pursuing my road not traveled at UConn (ie - what I would be doing if I weren't an economist. You can see the internal dialogue here:)
Stephen's wife, Emilee! She got a BA in Biology while working as an ASL interpreter. To celebrate, she went to Disney and swam with the fishies in their aquarium.

Tiffany, my home teachee, who is now a BA Economist. Now she gets will be trying to find a job in Ithaca.

Also to Alan, brother of my high school's All American Cameron, who is also graduating in economics, if I read his parents' Facebook note correctly.

To our friends at Cornell and other schools that haven't finished the school year yet, good luck on finals.

And just remember, for everyone who continues on to grad school:

Taking matters into his own hands

For those of you just tuning in, Hyrum is a bit of an odd duck. He shows absolutely no interest in something until he suddenly really wants to do it ... and does it. Having recently mastered button pushing (which he practices with great joy daily on the television - I'm SO glad we don't have cable) and sticking out his tongue, he has decided it is high time he took feeding into his own hands.

Thankfully, there's a spoon in those hands. Joy, in an attempt to get him to respond a bit more at meal times, had recently started placing the food on a spoon near his mouth, and then waiting for him to mouth his forward to eat it. This seemed to require even more patience on her part than her earlier methods, and more of his, of which there is but little. It seems to have sparked a reaction though, as Joy called out to me from working in the other room to come and see. With delight I saw and grabbed and the camera. This is the best of the videos I took - he was about at the end of his meal.

Over the last week, he has continued to feed himself (though he's just as happy to let us help also). He puts green beans in by himself. He spoons in his own cereals. He hefts my old iron cup to drink from (which I refill about 5 drops at a time because he still has a high tendency for spillage if he grabs with the wrong hand). Aside from spilled milk, he is a surprisingly clean eater, losing relatively little to the floor or his shirt. Here he is showing off his clean hands and only lightly smudged face after feeding himself the entire meal. Frau Maske would never know he was my son*....

He still loves water containers (glasses, jars, bottles) and will sit enthralled trying to open them.
He likes strawberries and will eat unwanted grains if I coat them in some freshly squozen strawberries. Oh, and today at church, he stuck chalk in his mouth. ... I think he liked it.

So now he can feed himself. Go, Hyrum!

*I don't know what it was, but I was really accident prone at Frau Maske's. I dropped food on her carpet or tablecloth nearly every meal, often multiple times. It was so bad my companion would role play eating out with me to help me practice not spilling.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Finding Yourself on Facebook

Pre-script: I'd really like to only include the first paragraph of this post, and then stick the rest "under the fold" as it's termed. How do you do that on blogspot? The idea is that there is a small link that says 'to read the rest,' and then this long, rambling nothing of a post doesn't push all the interesting Hyrum material off the page. Any ideas? Thanks. - DW
I enjoy playing around with personality quizzes. They all have a tendency to say more than could be justified by their questions, but unless I think the result is absolute bunk or thoroughly unsubstantiated, I usually enjoy getting some nearly-always positive feedback about myself or hearing something completely off the wall.

The unsubstantiated:
"You are a perfect Mormon. There are only 4-5 of these in the whole world, so you must have been lying."
There were, what, FOUR questions to your survey? The only two I recall were how often I read my scriptures and what temperature I like my caffeine (aka how tolerant I am of other people's caffeine). That it?? I have yet to see an LDS survey that was worth baby drool. Maybe the market needs me....

The bunk:
I am the muppet Janice. She's in the band, Electrical Mayhem "oh yeah, with the yellow hair and bad makeup if I recall correctly," Joy identifies. For suuuuure. Laid back, everyone thinks I'm totally cool, nothing phases me, love being in groups.... Uhhhh, try again.

Off the wall:
Closely related to the bunk, I'm filling a giant pool with diet lemonade to reduce global warming when a raptor knocks me in and I drown. I may not survive raptors or lemonade, but I've got a 50/50 shot of surviving zombie attack. For a guy who only saw one zombie flick from the 70s (starring Charlton Heston as humanity's savior), not bad.

A little more informative:
Derrill completed the quiz "THE INNER NATIONALITY QUIZ: WHAT ARE YOU REALLY?" with the result You are Japanese. .
"You are good-natured and shy, interested in anything and everything that is exquisite, fine, detailed and highly cultivated. You put a lot of store in forms and formality, but that doesn't stop you from having a very poignant longing for ecstatic self-dissolution, which you sometimes achieve in groups, and sometimes through aesthetic appreciation on your own. You are much more comfortable behaving in public exactly like your peers, but when you are alone you pursue activities that are sometimes almost freakishly idiosyncratic. You make friends easily because of your gentility, but you will only be truly intimate with a very small group of them."

Well, let's say I'm more comfortable in public when others behave like me. I have yet to figure out how to act 'normal' without at least a feather boa, a pair of tweezers, two raw eggs, and a pinch of Crisco. It's nice of them to think I make friends easily. I'll give in on formality and private freakish idiosyncrasies, though.

Derrill completed the quiz "Which element are you?" with the result Air.
"Hey there, Air. How are you doing? In your default form you are by far the gentlest of the elements, the most altruistic of the elements, the easiest to be around. People who are close to you relish that closeness as if you were the oxygen they breathe. Though when you are such an honest and true individual sometimes it is easy for others to move through life as if you are invisible to them, pushing you around and hurting you in ways they would never imagine doing to say, water or fire. Little do they know that air can be pushed too far and all it takes is a few powerful gusts from this angry element to get a point across, though not without a rush of guilt and second thoughts to follow. Your place in the world: The genuine soul and emotional helper to those in need (A breathe of fresh air)."

The description is a bit ... overblown? But at least there are a few friends with whom I know I have fulfilled that role. Most accurate part: the guilt and second thoughts when I express my opinion a tad stronger than I meant to.

Derrill took the Which punctuation mark are you? quiz and the result is comma
"You are a comma. You like to spread yourself a little thin, trying to be all things to all people. A bit of a control freak, you try to do the work of 10 people. Relax! Let someone else shoulder some of the burden for once!"

Now this was undergrad Derrill for sure. It's nice to know he's still alive and well. The best part about this survey is that it's not trying to tell me everything about me. It focuses on one aspect and let's it go.

Not in Facebook land, I've learned that...
if I were a superhero, I'd be Spiderman (inner torment and nerdy)
if I were in Star Wars, I'd be Darth Vader (does not play well with others)
if I had a superpower, I'd have super speed (Joy agrees - highly efficiency oriented)
if I lived in the middle ages, I'd be a traveling troubador (entertainer, love of music and humor)
and in Imaginiff, some friends tell me that the body part that most resembles me is my mouth. ... ?? They explained it was because I led the music at church and sing so much. Ah.

And, by interesting coincidence, a website that examines your blog and tells you your Braxton-Hicks personality type says I'm the exact opposite that my usual B-H test tells me. There are two possibilities: either I'm presenting a false Derrill to you all, or else the blog is a way for me to express other parts of me. Given that my B-H test results give me a 60/40 split on every characteristic, I flatter myself that it's the latter.

What are some of your favorite silly personality quizzes?

Easter 09

Last year in the run up to Easter, Joy and I spent a little time each day reading through portions of the New Testament dealing what Jesus did on that day. It was deeply spiritual and very fulfilling. We planned this year to try to work this up into an official tradition and introduce Hyrum to some of the highlights.

Well, 2/8 isn't bad, right?

On Palm Sunday, I told Hyrum the story about the triumphal entry (Matthew 21) and then we did a reenactment. I got down on all fours and Hyrum, who has just discovered he can grip Dad's neck with his legs, rode on me as the donkey into the living room. Joy tossed some blankets and sheets out in our path and cried out with a loud voice, saying: "Hosanna! Blessed be the name of the most high God!" (which on checking after the fact are neither the words given in Matthew, nor in Luke, but it's the right sentiment).

Hyrum smiled big and really got a kick out of it. Sorry, no videos - whose hands were available?

Then ... something kept happening this week. I'm not sure how. There was the seminar given by Nobel prize winner Amartya Sen, there was home teaching, there was ... SOMETHING every evening so I was only home long enough to eat dinner and/or help put Hyrum to bed, but not enough to really talk with him about the temple or the parables or the Passover or Gethsemane or the Crucifixion. Actually, no, we did cover the temple - I was home one more night when we colored Easter eggs and told him about the temple. Anyway, it wasn't as full as we had hoped.

Sunday we did some things right, though. Following the women, we arose early in the morning so we could be out of the house by 7. I practiced a musical number for the Easter Program with two YSA friends who asked to do my arrangement of "I Know That My Redeemer Lives." Despite one of the girls being sick, they did a really good job turning my choir arrangement into a talented duet. Then there was choir rehearsal and then we performed for the Sacrament meeting Easter program.

Joy, in her Easter hat, was in charge of the Church program and she did a very successful job delegating large portions of it to other people. With a lot of people putting their best efforts into their parts of the program, the Spirit testified of Jesus and His Atonement. I got to spend some time in the afternoon telling Hyrum more of the story that had been missed over the week and took a much needed 3 hour nap.

Joy was also in charge of Easter baskets. She put Hyrum's out for him after his nap and he took some time exploring all the different things in his basket. Now for THAT we have video! Joy filmed the whole thing for me in short clips. Her commentary is almost better than watching the baby at some points. "And there's that yellow jelly bean again.... and the frog."

Hy really got a kick out of that frog. Almost none of the toys were new - Joy was reintroducing some old friends and added some large plastic jelly beans and a penguin in a ball. Our son is rather ambidextrous, and it was interesting to me to note that he explored the basket with his right hand while his left hand held on to the frog or the penguin depending on which had his interest. He'd explore a bit, shake the frog, pull out that yellow jelly bean again, shake the frog, put the jelly bean back, shake the frog.....

Joy hid my basket and I found it. I hid hers to find the next morning ... which we realized after the fact wasn't the most food safety awareness thing I'd ever done -- boiled eggs sitting out at room temperature for 8+ hours. "Needless to say, there were some of our eggs we didn't eat" including the one Joy only found YESTERDAY! "We tend to think it's a time bomb." I put it in with the baby diapers, which also constitute biological warfare. Sadly, Joy had left her basket on the stove earlier, so her chocolate eggs got melted pretty bad. The Easter bunny decided in all justice to switch our chocolate eggs around, so she still got the good ones.

"We're going to have to get some more Wanka eggs next year." Those were wonderful.

For dinner we had corned beef and cabbage, I guess celebrating Easter in Ireland. You've heard of Easter Island, well this is Easter Ireland. "Corned beef is so good!"

And that sounds a lot like Easter at the Watsons' this year. Oh, by fortuitous happenstance, I was reading John's account of the crucifixion on Saturday and the resurrection on Sunday. That's just how my reading happened to fall out. That was nice. Joy had made Easter nest cookies the week before (butterscotch chips, Chinese noodles, Crisco mixed together for the nest, then plop a few peanut M&Ms in for the eggs). They're cute. Decorative and delicious.

And THAT sounds a lot like Easter at the Watsons' this year.

A Message from our CBO

Hyrum (Chief Baby Officer) has something he'd like to show you.

translation: I discovered my tongue!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

You could already be a winner: The choice is yours

If only I were original enough to come up with this. But I like the idea and will pay it forward too.
The first five people to respond to this post will get something made by me! My choice. For you. This offer does have some restrictions and limitations:

1. I make no guarantees that you will like what I make!
2. What I create will be just for you.
3. It'll be done this year. [ie - before Easter 2010]
4. You have no clue what it's going to be. It may be a song. It may be a [comic collection] or maybe even some creation I haven't yet dreamed up. I may draw. I may bake you something and mail it to you. It may not be big or impressive. Who knows? Not you, that's for sure! But lets be honest here. This is me and I will likely do something amazing. =) So come on, sign up!
5. I reserve the right to do something extremely strange.

The catch? Oh, the catch is that you must re-post this on your blog and offer the same to the first 5 people who do the same on your blog. The first 5 people to do so and leave a comment telling me they did win a FAB-U-LOUS homemade gift by me!

*Edit* I copied this off of someone else's blog... but if you don't have a blog... then you are exempt from the catch... but only those people who I know don't have a blog...

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fun with Hy

Happy 13 month birthday, Hyrum!

Hyrum has a lot of new skills and games in addition to playing with goats. The first thing whenever I pick him up, out comes his index finger to start pointing at pictures "That is Jesus. Er ist Jesus Christus" or "Heber J. Grant" or anything else in between his room and breakfast "That is the heater. Das ist die Hitze." "That is the bread maker. Das ist ... das Brotmacher. Yeah, why not? Brotmacher is as good a name as any other."

"But I do still enjoy my goat."
Yes, Hyrum still enjoys his goat. A little salt, some cabbage, and ...

I showed him where the Big Red Button on her foreleg is and how to turn the goat on and off at will. Mostly he tries just by pressing it with his forefinger - if we're supporting it from behind or if he presses hard enough, it'll work, but he hasn't quite ... grasped the notion of pinching it between two fingers. He'll sit there pressing the button on and off dozens of times.

"While Dada has been teaching me how to push his buttons,"
Wait a sec...
"Mama taught me how to throw a ball. I used to hand it to her so she could throw it away and I'd run after it. But then I practiced throwing it behind me and then I actually threw the ball in front of me! We tossed the small basketball back and forth for a while."

In food and drink news, Hy ate strawberries this week and on Easter - for the very first time - we convinced him to eat CHOCOLATE.
"It's an acquired taste."
Video forthcoming. He holds his own bottle to drink now ... as well as his own cup, though he is willing to overturn either of them and dump them anywhere he can.

Like all the nursery kids we ever met, Hyrum loves bubbles and balloons. He doesn't reall reach out for the bubbles yet, though. He's content to watch.

For his birthday, we filled his playpan with balloons of different sizes. Many have now been popped.
"I accuse Dada in the kitchen with the scissors"
You win Clue again, son.

Hyrum has also learned how to play peekaboo by himself. He'll grab his saque or a blanket or a coat and throw it over his own head while running up to one of us. He waits until we call out, "Where's the baby?" Then he throws the cloth off his head and smiles big to have surprised us. Sometimes he just hits himself in the face over and over again with the cloth, disappearing and reappearing with giddy laughter.
"Then they put me to bed." *pout*

"Ah, yes, here I am with my monkey friend on the computer. I have a laptop like Dada and they don't tell me No everytime I try to play on it. I also really enjoy playing on the keyboard Mama and Dada got me for my birthday."

Hyrum is ... definitely growing up this month. He walks almost everywhere now. Holding his hand and guiding his walking is more an acknowledgement of his growing independence than a desire not to haul a 25 pounds baby around everywhere. Then there are these moments when his face looks more and more like a little boy's instead of a baby's and I'm forced to admit some of what growing up means.

Joy told me of a very cute thing today at Church. After sacrament meeting while I was in the clerks' office, she was gathering Hy's toys (it takes forever to reaccumulate the Baby Einstein picture cards when he's determined to spread them). Hy was standing by one of the closed doors out, looked around and couldn't see her. He called out in a very small voice, "Mom?" She called back to him and reassured him she was there. In a more calm voice, he then called out, "Dadadada?" Joy explained I wasn't there and he toddled back to her.

"Yeah, well Mama told me a cute story too."

Oh, did she now?

"Yeah. She said after you took a bunch of pictures of me one day, you cuddled the camera close and said that I would never grow up, that I would be your little baby forever and ever."

I ... may have said something of the sort.

"I love you too, Dada."

Getting His Goat

A couple years ago, Aunt Virginia gave us a goat doll. The goat sings (long excerpts from) The Lonely Goatherd in a very passable imitation ;) of Julie Andrews from The Sound of Music. While rotating his toys this month, we thought it might be nice to pull it out and see his reaction:

It's his new favorite toy. If he happens to find it on a given day, he will play it at least a dozen times. I've been teaching him how to activate the goat (press a big red button on the foreleg) but he still needs some help with that usually.

He quickly learned not to bounce the goat if he wanted to music to keep playing, but he still hasn't figured out that mouth.....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

None Were with Him

This video shows an excerpt from my favorite talk from General Confernece that happened last week. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, a modern day apostle, describes and testifies of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He speaks vividly and specifically about the loneliness of our Savior as He performed His greatest miracle, the ransom of our souls. How thankful I am for His sacrifice and for modern witnesses of His divinity.

The rest of the talk can be found here.

The Prophet, Thomas S. Monson, and his counsellors also released the following reaffirming witness:

At this Easter season of hope and renewal we testify of the glorious reality of the atonement and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. The empty tomb brought comforting assurance and provided the answer to the question of Job, “If a man die, shall he live again?” (Job 14:14).

Because of the Savior’s resurrection we will overcome death and become the beneficiaries of His mercy and grace. In a world of trouble and uncertainty, His peace fills our hearts and eases our minds. Jesus is in very deed “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6).

We give our sure witness that Jesus is the Christ. Though He was crucified, He rose triumphant from the tomb to our everlasting blessing and benefit. To each member of the human family He stands as our Advocate, our Savior, and our Friend.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Let's Hear it for UTAH!

The Derrill Watson, Newly Self-Annointed Defender of UT Series kicks off this week with an interesting paper by Peter J. Rentfrow, Samuel D. Gosling, and Jeff Potter. They studied the geographical distribution of 5 major personality characteristics and ranked their relative prevalence in the United States. States were then grouped into roughly 10-state blocks [sometimes a large tie for 1st is found] representing most to least of that personality type. I'll only report the four states my family really cares about right now and the top 10, but if you want the others, you can find them here. (Hat tip to Marginal Revolution.)

Extravertedness (sociability, hanging out with others)
Top 10: Utah (plus the northern plains states, Fla, Penn, Maine, and TX)
2nd 10:
3rd 10:
4th 10: CA, NY, Conn
5th 10:

Agreeableness (warmth, compassion, cooperativeness)
Top 10: Utah (plus the eastern plains states, the South minus 'Bammer, and Oregon)
2nd 10
3rd 10: CA
4th 10:
5th 10: NY, Conn

Conscientiousness (Responsibility and duty)
Top 10: Utah (plus AZ, NM, mid-plains, Fla, GA, and NC)
2nd 10: CA (Land of the flakes? whoda thunkit?)
3rd 10:
4th 10:
5th 10: NY, Conn

Neuroticism (stress, antisocial, poor coping)
Top 10: NY, Conn and most of the northeast
2nd 10:
3rd 10:
4th 10: CA
5th 10: Utah (much of the west scores very low stress)

Openness (curiosity, intellect, creativity)
Top 10: you guessed it ... no, you didn't. CA, NY, Conn and a bunch of seaside states
2nd 10: Utah
3rd 10:
4th 10:
5th 10:

So what good can we say for NY and Conn? Well, they're curious and intelligent, but that comes at the price of neuroticism, introversion, disagreeableness, and a noted lack of responsibility. Good places to get an advanced degree, perhaps. We Californians are more responsible than our stereotype, curious, and we're chilled out enough to avoid neuroticism, but we're much less open to strangers we like to pretend to be and are only middlin agreeable. Utah and Florida are about the best places to live if you care about the quality your neighbors. On the other hand, if you like your privacy, maybe you'd be happier out here in the northeast. ;)

Please note UT- bashers, UT is not neurotically stressed out and is much more intellectually curious than you give it credit. In fairness to my own neighbors, I would add that Ithaca is more extraverted and friendly than this report would indicate.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

But I repeat myself

Or Disney does anyway, back in the early 1970s.

t'other hand, it's not like this is THAT much of the movie.

t'other other hand, how'd you like to see the Mulan or Hunchback end of movie party done in the exact same style? Maybe for Shrek IV....

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Somebody loves you

Hyrum has been expanding his vocabulary and his skill set. A few weeks ago we put up the pictures of the latter-day prophets around his diaper changing station. He learned how to point at the pictures and really enjoys it when we tell him the name of the prophet. Gordon B. Hinckley is one of his favorites, I think.

While we practiced pointing at other pictures today, Hyrum identified a few people. Mama was showing him a book with pictures of generic family members. She told him that Grandpa meant Pop and made his special sound. "I'm not very good at that sound." But Hyrum recognized it and said, "Pop."

Then just now, he was pointing at pictures on the fridge. He pointed at me and called out "Da!" We showed him my family and some friends. When he got to the picture of Shari, who does playgroup with him now each week, I told him she was Shari. He repeated, "Jari!"

So Hyrum has tried to say Jesus, (grandma) Boo, Pop, and Shari. You are loved.

(In more frightening news, he put some things on the table and was trying to get them back off today but couldn't quite reach. So he grabbed his rocking chair, pushed it over to the table, and Joy is certain he would have stood up on it except the chair tipped over and he couldn't right it again. "And he was UPSET at the chair." He clearly has figured out the notion of stepping stools.)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

April Fool's Links

One of these headlines is not legit. Can you guess which one before clicking (or hovering) on the links?

A sober man took pictures of a pink elephant.

Guess who's blogging now? Obama's Teleprompter.

Obama may be the the world's worst gift giver.

A real life child was saved recently by Spiderman.

When lynch mobs form, innocents suffer, even on Wall Street.

During this economic downturn, several products have seen dramatically increased sales, including candy, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, and Polish haircuts.

Russia is bailing out the nesting doll industry. (And the $20 million stimulus goes inside the $30 million stimulus inside the...)

Meanwhile, one UT legislator proposed to tax caffeine. What next, water?

With many hat tips (in order from right to left?) to Marginal Revolution, Greg Mankiw, the BBC, and NPR.