Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Picking Favorites

Hyrum announced that he wanted to listen to Hark the Herald Angels Sing during dinner tonight (because we had just watched it from the First Presidency Christmas Devotional). Well, he didn't have any Hark the Angels on his playlist, so we need to pick one.

There are only 6 versions on this computer right now. So for dinner we listened to Mannheim Steamroller, Anthony Way Choirboy's Christmas, Julie Andrews, two Mormon Tabernacle Choirs, and Bing Crosby. After each one I asked which one he liked best. His answer was invariably "Hark All Ye Nations."

Until we were all done. Then the vote was in: Bing Crosby wins. Sometimes simplicity wins out.

(And now he's singing Hark All Ye Nations again.)

Small Moments of Christmas Happiness

Over the last couple years, my musical tastes expanded significantly, and there's a part of me that hasn't worried per se about my parents' reaction but has significantly doubted how well they fit into the family

Then for Christmas Pop not only bought me some of the new music I'd recently discovered, but liked it enough that he got it for Grandma Boo as well.

It felt a little like indirectly giving a Christmas present. :)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Christmas Bride

For our church Christmas party, each organization was supposed to come up with a song or a sketch or something to perform. As I told the elders, I LIVE for this stuff. So I was put in charge of coming up with a sketch. I pitched several ideas and the one that stuck was a parody of The Princess Bride. I got my food policy textbook off to the publisher by Thursday and wrote the script. The main players rehearsed it that night and we performed Friday. So the fight scene is completely impromptu. A friend recorded it and put it on YouTube. Sorry for the background noises of children, but you can hear us pretty well for the most part. The video is below the fold or linked here.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Being Pinocchio (and Mario)

One morning Hyrum asked to see the part of Pinocchio where he is brought to life. So we did. Pinocchio has become a regular household name since. He asks that Grandma Boo and Mommy address him as "Hello, Pinocchio." Here are a few other conversations we've had with him:

H: I am Pinocchio. Mommy, you be Jiminy Cricket. You're my conscience.
J: Well, sit down and watch the Tabernacle Choir then.
H: I'm sitting here because you're my conscience.

This conversation happened while Hyrum was in his Woody pajamas about to go to bed.
H: I am Mario, Luigi, Woody, and Pinocchio. I love Pinocchio most.
D: Why?
H: Because he loves his daddy.
[Daddy melted to hear that one and gave the little boy anything he wanted.]

A few minutes later as I get Hyrum into his saque:
D: Okay, are you Mario climbing in the pipe, Woody climbing into your stagecoach, or Pinocchio climbing in the whale?
H: I am Pinocchio climbing in the whale. Daddy will get me out in the morning.

He didn't much want to go to bed, so he didn't want to give Joy, Grandma Boo, Grandma Straw, or Pop hugs. But he was willing to hug Jiminy, Figaro, Cleo, and Gepeto.

Hyrum looked at this blog post and said, "That's Hyrum being Pinocchio. A picture of Jiminy Cricket? A picture of you being Mario?"

After some discussion, we cleared up that he meant a picture of him being Mario. So here are Daddy being Mario (L) and Hyrum being Mario (R)

[Update 5/29/11: There used to be pictures on this post, but we've gotten an insane number of unknown visitors to see them. While we haven't gone private, we aren't necessarily asking for the entire world to beat a path to our door. So I've taken them down. Sorry. - DW]

Hyrum quotes on vacation

Daddy said he wants me to be happy.

[Pop and Boo have an ornament of Prince Philip and Princess Aurora, aka Sleeping Beauty, dancing. Her dress changes colors. Hy loves it.]
Dear Father Heaven. Thank Thee for Hy and the Princess.

[When I got him up from his nap today with a Grover doll on the other side of the bed]
I was finger painting with Grover. He's in time out.
D: Why is Grover in time out?
He hit me.
D: That's a good reason to be in time out. How long will he be in time out?
[Hyrum thought about that question, then rolled over and gave Grover a big hug]

[Hyrum wandered into Pop's office while he was on a headset phone call. Hyrum somehow figured out that Pop was working and waited patiently for 5 solid minutes without saying anything until Pop was done. Then he spoke up. This is much more patient and polite than he is when he wants to talk to someone who is speaking to someone else in the room.]

Sunday, December 19, 2010

We missed that holiday...

Featuring the artistic talents of all three Watsons: Joy drew the outline, Derrill cut the holes based on themes and variations on the outline, and Hyrum gave chose the number and style of the teeth.

Hy dressed as Buzz Lightyear for Halloween, Joy repeated her role as the romantic Roman, and I came dressed in 22 t-shirts ... for some strange, esoteric reason. If anyone has pictures -- of me being wrapped up as a mummy by the Petersons, for instance -- please send them. There were several other Buzzes among the children.

Hy enjoyed Trick or Treating more than expected. He followed all the other kids around, said trick or treat, and filled his bag full of candy we knew he'd never eat.

Wrong again. Halloween candy became amazingly popular, in no small part thanks to Mario Party 8, which includes characters that eat candy that produces fireworks and changes their shapes. He wanted candy instead of cookies, actually ATE Tootsie Rolls in multiple flavors, and played with all sorts of strange, new, artificially-colored shapes for weeks.

Dear FCC: We continue to receive no funding or representation from any company we mention on the blog.

Performing the Chorus

Last year, Hyrum stood on the front pew at church enthralled as Pop conducted and Daddy accompanied the rest of the family and the choir in singing Handel's Hallelujah Chorus. He joined in the conducting, making a Christmas memory for most of the congregation that has gone down in legend.

I warned Pop last month that Hyrum probably wouldn't be conducting this year. He doesn't see Mommy doing that every Sunday and his enthusiasm for conducting has died down. He's much more into singing right now, and I joked that Hy might try to join in.

The last month he has joined me for most of my practice time as I tooled up to move the Chorus from piano to the organ. He was always very excited during rehearsals, but regularly interrupted rather than conduct, never sang along, and generally had an exuberantly good time running around.

That was more or less true yesterday too as the choir had its next-to-last practice -- and the first one on the Chorus. Our plan was that Hy would sit with a family in the ward, with Pop and Boo joking that they could probably auction off the right to care for Hy during the program on Facebook and get some pretty good offers.

Then on the last rehearsal Sunday morning, Hyrum stood in the middle of the choir next to Mommy and Grandma Boo and ... sang. I'm not sure which parts he was following, but I had a good view of him from the organ singing along. He sang the whole thing.

Joy and I looked at each other. We had the most scathingly brilliant idea since moving the Chorus to organ. Every year, Pop invites anyone from the congregation who has sung the Chorus before to come up and join the choir. We invited a good friend to watch Hyrum during the program whom we knew would come forward and told her to bring Hyrum. And so she did.

Pop says he just about lost it (his voice caught with tearful emotion) when he saw Hyrum walking up the aisle to the choir. He stood directly front and center next to Mommy and Grandma Boo again.

And he sang.

He sang and he sang and he sang.

He, himself, the Hyrum sang the whole piece.

Sometimes he may even have been on key, but that's not the point. It was a lot of fun to spare my eyes from the sheet music and the keyboards for a few seconds just to watch my son sing.

I feel very sad for the many members of the congregation who came up after to say they had missed seeing Hyrum conduct or sing -- some of them said they had brought camera phones just to record his performance. Since he was front and center, Pop, the organ, and the piano effectively blocked most people's view. Those in the choir generally noticed and talked about how adorable he was. The nice part of where Hy stood, though, is that since Pop didn't get a chance to see Hyrum conduct last year, at least he got to see him sing this year. Although, when he did look at Hy, he choked up, so he tried not to pay much attention.

I learned how to play piano with a vision of someday playing while Pop conducted. That was my dream and ambition, fulfilled when I was only 12. Today I played with Pop conducted ... and my son sang. My cup runneth o'er.

A Very Mario Christmas 2-3

Joy has been doing an advent calendar with Hyrum this month based on an article from The Friend magazine. Each day it asks a question about the nativity and they read a scripture from the New Testament to answer it. We've already mentioned Mario interrupting the story. Saturday the question was: "Who did the king send to find the baby Jesus?" Hyrum answered, "Mario!" ... Sorry, Mario, but your Savior is in another manger!

Hy and Joy have also worked up a new rendition of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Joy has come up with eight days so far, but Hyrum only cares about the first two: two Mario and Luigis and a Buzz Lightyear coloring book.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Strange Dream: Fictional Mandela

I woke up at 3:30 this morning from a strange, detailed dream. The setting was a fictional middle-income country severely divided by race. This may be the first time I dreamed I was black. I saw several scenes from the main character's life, in early childhood living on the streets and as a senior politician who sometimes seemed to have lost connection with his people and sometimes seemed to really be part of them. I don't know the names of any of the people, so in my lack of imagination I'm calling him Nelson even though the only resemblance is a vague similarity of setting.

I wrote down the last scene I saw before I woke up. I'll put it below the fold in case you're interested in it - just over 2 pages long. I should warn you that the scene includes references to fecal matter and refers to it with words I don't use. If that makes you squeamish, you are so advised. This is no way an attempt at social commentary about any person or people.

Nelson had just finished giving yet another speech at a five star hotel before a large group of influential people on the social inequalities and politics of the country. If it were a movie, this would be somewhere in the late middle when the protagonist is starting to feel worn down by the many pressures on him, doubting if any good will come of all his efforts, and getting cynical about the whole thing. Right now, he is so tired that the people around him are blurring and he's not entirely cognizant of what is going on, but is fighting on regardless.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Collateral Spelling

As part of showing Hy more and more movies to broaden his horizons, he sees a certain introductory movie quite regularly. So at some point he decided that THX was not only an essential part of movies but a theater experience all its own.

When we show him his ten minutes of movie in the morning, he regularly asks us to start the movie from the beginning just to see the THX sequence.

So it is little wonder then that he takes not-Scrabble tiles and spells out THX with them.

He's been able to read Bob, Disney, Mom, and Dad for a while now. He's recently also acquired THX, Wall-E, Toy Story, Pixar ["And you jump on the I!"], and most of the time Hyrum, but he also thinks Hanes spells Hyrum.

Thank you, Pixar and LucasArts.

My favorite ornament and other goings on

Hi there. Hy here.

This is my favorite Christmas tree ornament. Gamma Boo made it. I ask Mommy and Daddy every day if I can take it down and play with it. It's one of the first things I ask for after I make sure they turn the Christmas tree lights back on.

Boy, if it weren't for me there would be no holiday cheer around here, I tell you!

Tonight I got to put Daddy in time out. He went to my room. After a few moments, Mommy called out to ask if he was going to stay there or rejoin us. He called back, asking *me* if he should come back or stay in time out.

"Stay in time out!" I called then started walking to him. Mommy asked if I wanted to go talk to him. "Yeah," I said.

I walked in the room, and with my biggest big-boy grin looked him square in the eye and said, "Why are you in time out?" just like Mommy and Daddy!

'Cause I hit Hyrum with my head,' Dad said meekly but with a twinkle in his eye. He waited for me, then continued the script without me: 'I'm sorry, Hyrum. Will you forgive me?'

"Yes!" I leaped into his arms and gave him a big, wet smooch. Then we walked back to Mommy again.

[Daddy says: Best. Time Out. Ever]

In other news, I got to keep my underwear on from after my nap through to bedtime before I wet it. A new record!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Santa: After and Before

Part 1: Hy meets Santa (pictures to come later)
Hyrum had a good time at our ward's Christmas party. Daddy had a great time too, but that's another story. After the food [so nice to have that first and on time] and the singing and program, a Special Visitor was announced. I asked Hyrum if he would like to meet Santa Clause. He's not overly familiar with Santa yet, but he's heard the Night Before Christmas and the Grinch, and we did a family home evening about Santa ... and he did well meeting tall strangers at Disneyland ... so he might be interested.

Hyrum said yes. Great. I snapped him up and raced the big kids to get Hy back home within three hours after his bedtime. (Poor kid). As we waited our turn, I told Hy what to expect:

When you go up and sit on Santa's lap, he's going to ask you some questions. He's going to ask if you've been a good boy. Have you been a good boy, Hyrum?
Yes, you have. [It's so nice to believe that!] Then he's going to ask what you want for Christmas. What do you want for Christmas, Hyrum?

[This is the big question. In previous attempts to elicit information from him, he hasn't really gotten it. He usually asked for a toy he already owned but wasn't in his hands.]

"I want a decorated Christmas."


It was Hyrum's turn. He walked up to Santa and stood in front of the big man nervously. Santa invited him onto his lap, but Hy stepped backwards. So Santa reached into his pack and pulled out ... a Candy Cane! Aha! Hyrum knows candy canes. They decorate Christmas trees. They are crunchy (blekh). It's just what he wanted! He hopped right up on Santa's lap.

Have you been a good boy?

I couldn't tell what else Santa asked, but I could tell that Hyrum's response was silence. So Santa let him go and I took his hand and walked back to Mommy. Hyrum was very excited. He paused to tell good friend Jon that he got a candy cane. He played with the candy cane the rest of the night and much of the next day. We asked him how he liked the party the next day: "I got a candy cane."

And that's how Hyrum met Santa.
Part 2: a PSA on planning for Santa
Now that the Church has gotten rid of Activities Committees, there's no risk of me be called to one when the bishopric goes bat-guano-insane. But it's worse: now anyone can be assigned to prepare things, so having a calling is no protection.* So just in case someone ever decides I need to organize Christmas, I'd like to remind myself of a couple points about preparing for Santa:

Hyrum according to Facebook

Last night I plugged the camera into the computer and discovered I haven't been posting Hyrum pictures or many blogs about him since Halloween. Time flies when you're working 12-15 hour days for two months at a time! Thankfully, we have some records through Facebook's status updates:

Saturday, Dec 11: Hy asked to listen to a song ten times. I told him when we got to number 7. He announced "Only three more times. 8, 9, 10." 2.75 years old today and he can solve 7+x=10 in his head.

Friday, Dec 10: Hy just counted backwards from 8
Thur, Dec 9: Hyrum tries on big boy underpants.
More of the story: We've been half-heartedly potty training Hy for a couple months now. We have alphabet stickers and some small prizes to give him, but there are still some significant challenges to get through before we're even going to be close. Problem is, he starts school in two weeks. Our original plan had been that he would graduate to big boy underwear as a reward for becoming potty trained like all the kids books say. After praying together about what we could do, though, I had the idea that because transitions are so important to Hyrum, we need to start even that transition now.
So we went to WalMart and bought him a pack of Cars and a pack of Pixar underwear. I had thought we would need to show him the underwear for a few days, spend another few days getting him to hold them, convincing him to try them on for a couple minutes to see how they 
Nope, nothing doing. He wanted them on right now. Joy says, "I had no idea what you wanted." It's not really what I wanted, just expected. So when he wakes up or gets up from a nap, he gets some underwear. He soils them and tells us he is wet and he goes back to diapers for the rest of the day-segment. It may just be helping! It also tells us that Lightning McQueen is preferred to Buzz Lightyear who is preferred to Wall-E.
Friday, Dec 3: For the first time, I heard the dreaded words "Whose kid is this?" No blood, no foul, right?
Just a boy an hour past his bedtime being a little rambunctous in a store, to the dismay of one of the customers.
Sun, Nov 28: We've begun teaching Hyrum about Christmas fun (in the Nativity he is well versed). Tonight after Joy's FHE lesson on Christmas symbols, I read him "Twas the Night Before..." and tomorrow we start reading How the Grinch Stole Christmas. In his prayer he said, "Thank Thee [for] Christmas."
Wed, Dec 1: "That's the Grinch. He had an idea."  
Sun, Nov 21: "I'm slicing the chair to decorate the floor for Thanksgiving - Steve and Emie coming"
Sat, Nov 20: Hy's new vocabulary word is Lava. "Lava is red. Don't step on the lava." Thank you, Incredibles, for teaching my son such a valuable lesson.
Wed, Nov 17: Joy won the bowling tonight with strikes in frames 8, 9, and 10. Hy prayed "Thank thee for bowling. Thank thee for strikes...."

Thank you, Mario

It's pretty clear that Mario is the new king of the hill. Hyrum is deeply interested in MarioParty and Super Mario. We've already mentioned his effects on Christmas lights. There isn't a prayer lately where he doesn't mention his thanks for Mario, Luigi, Peach, and often Toadette or Daisy.

Now how does an enterprising parent turn this into an advantage?

Joy answers, "Burn the DS! That's how he got introduced to Mario."

I have a less violent solution. Hy has this green sack Joy made for him that we try to put him into at night. But because he can't get out of it, he doesn't like getting into it much. I've tried connecting it to other characters in the past: Buzz climbs into his spaceship (very unpopular), Woody climbs into his stagecoach (not too terrible), the fire trucks drive into the fire station... So why not invite Hyrum to be Mario and climb into his pipe? And why not sing a little while I do so, a little Mario theme, Mario going down the pipe, Mario in the underworld... I've been listening to this stuff for over 20 years.

He LOVES it! After church when I didn't put him in his sack for his nap, he said as I left "I'm not Mario. :(  "  And when Joy went to wake him up, "I'm not Mario :(   I don't get in the pipe."

Success! Thank you, Mario. Le dee, dedee dee dee dee. Dudee.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Hyrum really really sings

I know I've reported on Hyrum's progress in learning how to sing and called it Hyrum sings. Today he really did it!

He is currently enamored of the Hallelujah Chorus and Hark All Ye Nations, both with fairly recognizable rhythms. Today at church Hyrum ran up to a random member and sang, "Dun dun da-dun dun! Dun dun da-dun!" The fellow looked at Hy for a moment, and responded with the next line of the song, also in dun-duns. Hyrum looked very happy and ran off again.

In other cute news, Joy and Hyrum walked in to the chapel as the bishop was welcoming everyone. Hyrum looked up at him and said, "Hello." The bishop was surprised, but recovered quickly and welcomed Hyrum in particular, "Hello, Hyrum."

The number one part of going home or being at home is the Christmas tree lights. He just wnats to see the lights and talk about the lights and touch the lights and put toys in the lights (or talk about Mario - tonight the Angel Mario visited Mary, who then visited her cousin Peach who gave birth to baby Luigi. The Angel Gabriel visited Joseph Smith instead.)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Oh Christmas Tree

We got out the Christmas tree today and plugged it in. Enough of the lights are on that Hyrum is fascinated. Last year he mainly tried to blow out the lights on the tree, as if they were candles.

1 - He has decided the lights represent Mario Bros. characters. Red is Mario, Yellow is Princess Peach, and Green in Luigi (Wugi). He hasn't figured out what blue is. Joy recommends Princess Daisy.

2 - Joy also pulled out my Statler and Waldorf dolls from the shed while she was at it. They're the hecklers on the Muppets. Hyrum has eagerly been trying to put them on or in or through the Christmas tree, which is tough for a 12" doll to manage. When I introduced them to him by name, he took each one over to the tree and said, "There's our Christmas tree." Then he brought them back together to give each other a little kiss. (FYI - Statler's the tall one.)

Joy has also been doing a advent activity with Hyrum from the Friend. Each day they pull out a paper ornament to velcro on the paper tree and ask a question about the Christmas story. The first was the name of the angel. Today they talked about John Baptist's naming.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Weigh In

Joy has lost 30 pounds in the last ~15 months.
Derrill has lost 30 pounds in the last 18 months - 10 last year on South Beach, 10 May-July on not-SB, 10 since the kidney stone in October when I gave up chocolate and then had a stomach flu for Thanksgiving.
And oddly enough Hyrum hasn't gained any weight in the last few months, though he's getting taller and progressing into size 3T pants and 4T shirts. Maybe half a pound.

I also upped my weight lifting today - benching 155 pounds.

Monday, November 22, 2010

A Thanksgiving Reminder

In the words of Dave Barry (2004):
But Thanksgiving is also a spiritual time of quiet reflection - a time when we pause to remember, as generations have remembered before us, that an improperly cooked turkey is - in the words of the U.S. Department of Agriculture - "a ticking Meat Bomb of Death."
Please be sure to cook your Thanksgiving dinner thoroughly. The USDA's actual quote is that means 165 degrees measured with a meat thermometer.

Food safety website Barfblog's recommendations: avoid Whole Foods turkey "For the past couple of weeks, Whole Foods has been pushing their turkeys like some form of food porn crack..." Chapman and Powell's advice for a safe Thanksgiving turkey here. The thing we are going to be most pressed to accomplish: "Refrigerate leftover turkey within 2 hours of taking it out of the oven."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Giving Pop Due Notice

Last year when my dad's choir sang the Hallelujah Chorus, Hyrum stood up in the pews and conducted with him. It was the single most adorable event in 2009 by many accounts.

I have some sad news. This year I don't think he's going to conduct...

But that doesn't mean that he won't be participating!

"Aw-way-woo-ya! Aw-way-woo-ya!"

You have been warned.

"An HE shall WAYNE fohevah..."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

I Thank Thee Dear Father

At some point, Hyrum transferred our requirement that he eat five different foods at a meal in order to get a cookie into praying for "five things" before he can say Amen. He starts most prayers like this, "Dear Father Heaven, thank Thee for five things" and waits for me to show him my closed fingers ready to count off whatever his precious little heart is thankful for. After five, I will prompt him "Please" and he closes, "Please bless me be good, be happy, Jesus Christ Amen" in varying degrees of understandability, speed, and volume.

What is Hyrum thankful for?
Most frequently some combination of:
MommyDaddy [we're a packaged set]
this morning with Pop and Boo
Buzz, Woody, and/or Bob the Builder [usually in a set]
Marioparty, Disney SingIt, or any other Wii or board game he played that day
Cookie or Halloween candy

And on occasion:
Steve and Emie [if we've been visiting]
bowling and strikes [last night for Joy's birthday]
various songs he loves
Buzz, Woody, Jessie, Bullseye, Ham, Rex....
Toby train
General Conference
church or his tie
Family fun time
potty stickers

In one prayer he was thankful for: Toy Story, Toys, 2, 3, 4....

This morning after we read about the Sermon on the Mount and what Jesus said about prayer, I sang "I Kneel to Pray" to him. He joined me in singing the entire second verse laying out the prayer. It was most impressive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

How to clean the fan

Remember those truths we hold to be self-evident? Here's another: It should be easier than this to clean the fan of a laptop. Video and song below the fold:

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Look of Love

You may have picked up by this point that our wonderful toddler is a bit obsessive in his preferences. Joy's response is to try to avoid giving him his latest obsession in the hopes it will tone down. My response is to try to dilute it by getting him a lot of obsessions he can choose from - that way Joy has plenty of other desirable things to replace the problem with. This is why I'm so vigorous in introducing new music and movies to him and keep track of recent successes on the right hand side of the blog (formerly Hyrum's True Love de Jour, now just Hyrum Discovers).

In the process, I've learned that Hy has this look when he's discovering a new True Love. And that's a fun thing to notice.

Last night before bed he asked me to read him The Crocodile poem again. As usual I was insistent that we read something new first. As I turned the page to the next "poom" he saw how long it was going to be and didn't have any funny pictures. He began to despair but I launched into it before he could object. .. I hadn't realized Silverstein wrote The Unicorn which I only knew as the song by the Irish Rovers and Roger Whittaker. But that meant I knew a tune for it and sang away.

And I saw ... the look. He sat entranced as I sang away about the mythic creatures. It's not a look of ecstasy, delight, or glee. It's the look of someone entranced - who is focusing every ounce of soulfiber into this wondrous new experience so that it won't be forgotten - for whom time and everything outside of this experience has ceased to exist and this one moment can continue indefinitely without complaint - slack-jawed and drooling, only his eyes betray the intensity of his interest.

I finish and there comes the greatest applause our little boy offers: in the softest, reverent voice he asks "again?"

Thursday, November 11, 2010

My split personalities - a little navel gazing

In real life, Myers-Briggs tells me I am an introvert (like I needed someone to tell me I recharge my batteries by being alone and expend it in social interaction) who prefers abstract, intuitive thinking and that I prefer to use my thinking rather than my intuition to understand the rest of you (aka INTJ, the Mastermind, the rarest of the typologies). My boss is also INTJ so we get along splendidly. Joy, oddly enough, is ESFP - she would be my exact opposite if I didn't actually have a 60/40 split on each of the categories.

But my blogs are another story. Cue the Typealyzer who will perform a Myers-Briggs on your blog in seconds. This blog ... does not look like me. It is extroverted to my introvert, concrete to my abstract, and feeling to my thinking. We can't blame Joy because she's seldom on here. Far from being a Mastermind, around here I'm a Socializer! Our answer is that this is just a forum and place for me to express my other not-quite-half.

My work blog on the other hand is almost exactly me (The Duty Fulfiller). The only difference is that again I use concrete examples of things that are present in my communication rather than sticking to abstract thought.

I like the pictures of brain activity these two blogs present. Pity they won't let me copy and paste. Each blog lets me emphasize a very different part of my brain. (I enjoy that my brother's blog - Mental Meanderings of a Modern Superhero - gets a depiction of a fellow with a sword and shield, and the description for my mother's sounds about spot on.)

A morning with Hyrum

Hyrum likes reading his Shel Silverstein "pooms." His new favorite is the Crocodile and the Dentist.

Today Hy is wearing orange and there's a Tigger on his pants, so he isn't running everywhere. He's going "boing boing boing!" and running into things more.

We read about Jesus getting baptized today. I asked him, "Do you want to be baptized?"
"No," he says.
Uhoh. Patience ... "Why not?"
"I want to stay here."
Oh. "Do you want to be baptized when you're eight?"
Oh good.

While reading about John the Baptist, Hy made some unusual connections. I read that people asked John how they should live.
"Like Pinnochio!"
?? He said they should keep the commandments, tell the truth, and
"Like Pinnochio in the cage! Tell the truth."
Yes, Hyrum, just like Pinnochio in the cage. *ahem* John the Baptist was a prophet of God.
"Like Pinnochio!"
No, Hyrum, not like Pinnochio.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Truths Held to be Self-Evident

Click to enlarge
(part 1, a bit more serious)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Hyrum sings: Army of Helaman

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hyrum's Top Music: Oct

It's been a really good month for Hyrum's music. Thanks to the Disney Sing It we got last month, he's discovering a bunch of new songs and movies to love. And with the discovery of Veggie Tales' "What have we learned today," Hyrum may just have set a new one month record for the year. It makes a difference when a song is only 30 seconds long...

Hy also sang his first proper note this month and he's starting to have some rise and fall in his voice when he 'sings' along with us. It's very fun.

Top Fifteen
1. What Have We Learned Today - 102
2. Give a Little Whistle - 38
3. And the Green Grass Grew All Around - 37
4. Praise to the Man (arr. Mack Wilberg) - 35
5. It's the Time of Your Life - 34
6. Tarantarra - 34    yes, it's still here and the first song he asks for every day
7. Smurf Theme - 29
8. Six Little Ducks - 28
9. Primary Colors - 26
10. I Love Rocky Road - 25
11. Neil Diamond's Hallelujah Chorus (aka Chorus 10) - 21
      Praise to the Man (arr. Roger Hoffman)
      VeggieTales Theme
14. Bob the Builder Theme - 19
      Spoonful of Sugar

All time favorites below the fold as usual

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Joy picked up Pinnochio for Hyrum at the library. We've been watching it briefly in the morning. Yesterday he decided that putting on too-big shoes (mine) and his Bob helmet (yellow) turned him into Pinnochio. Then he told Mommy that she was Jiminy Cricket and they danced around. It was a lovely morning activity.

So now there are four people he tries to dress up as: Buzz, Bob, Woody, and Pinnochio. 3/4 require him to wear boots and all require a hat.

Mommy reports that she can't find my church shoes anymore....

Bednar on Balance

From a fireside in Ogden this Sunday, Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles shared:
First, Elder Bednar posed the question "How do you obtain balance?"
"Somehow, someway, we find that there is this desire for optimum equilibrium where there is this perfect harmony and balance in life," he said. "I have figured out a few things. You can really only do one thing at a time. And, if you are only doing one thing everything else is being neglected. Therefore, can you at any moment ever be in perfect harmony? The answer is no."
On the many demands on our time:
When you say no to something that is nice but not necessary, ultimately you are saying yes to something that is essential.
Unless of course you are saying yes to something completely inconsequential but entertaining. He also addressed revelation, dating (get rid of the lists of what other people should be and focus on lists of what you want to become), and his testimony of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Making Lemonade, Carping Diem, and Improving Shining Moments

Joy and Hyrum were talking to Grandma Boo via webcam when I texted them that I was done with my seminar and could they please come pick me up from school so we could have some family time before I left again for home teaching and got back to our job market. (This all was planned and FHE was Sunday). Joy excitedly said goodbye and raced out the door with Hyrum ... leaving her keys inside the locked house. Oops.

It was chilly and neither of them had sweaters. She decided they would stay warmer if they walked out to meet me along the way. So she encouraged Hy to jog along beside her up the hill and down the road to meet me.

I had also started walking home as I usually do so we can meet each other all the sooner. Last night it was a good thing too! We met up outside the school and decided we might as well have family fun time on the move. Hyrum wore my sweater as he rode my shoulders and we talked and made merry. We paused at one point to admire a noble buck in a grassy field just at the crest of the hill, with autumnal trees and a rising moon in the background. It was quite impressive.

Normally we read the scriptures, but none were at hand, so we told Hyrum about the scriptures we were reading. Joy told him about Enos and I told him about Peter blessing the lame man at the temple. A good time was had by all.

Then this morning I went to wake Hyrum. While we read his scriptures, he paused to tell me "Peter goes to the temple." Why, yes he did, Hy. What did Peter do at the temple? "Blessed the man who couldn't walk." And what happened? "He stood up and walked!" Was he happy? "Oh yes!"

A good time was had by all.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Hy Meets the Beach

Hi there. Hy here.

After all the fun at Disneyland, Mom and Dad took me to the beach to finish off our sunburns. At Disney the sun mostly hid behind fuzzy clouds, so we only had very little burns. After two hours at the beach, though, we were nice and toasty.

My job at the beach is to find rocks and bits of wood. I then return them to their oceanic home. Throw throw throw throw. Walk a bit with Mom and Dad. Throw throw throw throw....

We walked along the beach until Daddy saw a large flock of birds - seagulls, pigeons, and some other friends. Daddy told me that when he was my age, his favorite thing to do was try to catch a bird. What happened next was unexpected. Is that MY dad?

That does look kind of fun! I spent the rest of the afternoon following in my noble daddy's footsteps chasing birds. While we were on the pier, Mommy noticed one bird I was standing near but hadn't tried to chase yet. She asked why I hadn't yet. I tried and Daddy made a video.

Cutest line of the day: "I can't catch a bird." Daddy showed me how it's done. He got to stroke one of the birds' wings. Some day when I'm big, maybe I can catch birds like Daddy.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Power of Cookies

Hyrum still doesn't meet many foods. His staples are still strawberry yogurt, applesauce, blended peaches and pears, an eggless raw cookie dough, and cheddar cheese. Normally he eats one of those foods two meals a day and we can convince him to have 2-3 more of them during the day.

Somewhere along the line, though, Grandma Boo introduced him to cookies. At Disneyland, we learned he would quite happily eat 2 or more sugar cookies with pink frosting and sprinkles every meal if we let him. As one of his very few sources of (highly processed) grains, we're happier than we would otherwise be.

Then we unlocked the vast incentivizing power of the cookie. Joy made him a deal: he gets half of a cookie for eating 5 different foods during the same meal and another half for 'trying' a new food. Either a pink sugar cookie or one of these 'butter keks' with chocolate and "Small World" pictures on them (castles and windmills are his favorites).

He made his way through a cookie a day or more last week. He actually put a piece of lettuce on his tongue! (before gagging and pulling it off) He ate a little whole grain bread with enough peanut butter on it! He eats 5 different foods for two meals a day! Peas and carrots are starting to sneak back into his diet and peanut butter shows up every time he has a cookie. Huzzah! We got him his own can of sprinkles he can try putting on new foods to see if that makes them more appetizing. We are careful not to overreact during the meal, but we'll dance online here with you.

Five foods gets you cookie
That's good enough for me.
New foods gets you cookie
That's good enough for me!...
Oh, progress progress progress starts with cookie!

It came to pass

Pop was in a Sunday School class once when a woman shared that her favorite phrase from scripture was "And it came to pass," which opens far more verses in the Book of Mormon than any sane author would have written if he were trying to get on the bestsellers list. Wars, famines, sorrows, peace, prosperity, life ... it all comes and passes. Whatever we are going through will pass, and she found that very comforting.

Last week I was diagnosed with a parasite. I dutifully took my pills and it should have passed away by now.

But the doc thinks that isn't what's wrong with me. It's irritable bowel syndrome caused by job market stress. So I'm looking forward to another 6 months of disgusting symptoms and Metamucil. And then it will come to pass.

Yesterday I had a strange pain in my back, but it went away after a short nap. Just before bed, it started coming back. Then suddenly it hit with full force. I couldn't find any position that relieved the pain. Nothing helped. Screaming and whimpering in agony, I phoned my parents for a priesthood blessing and their counsel to hurry to the ER. Home teachers came to guard sleeping Hyrum while Joy and I spent a sleepless night at the hospital. I have never known such prolonged agony as I waited for them to admit me. But being in the waiting room and the dry and less-dry heaves finally came to pass.

Kidney stones, the CT scan said. Here, have some more drugs and some antibiotics for your infections. Oh what instant bliss and relief! Huzzah for narcotics! The pain came to pass.

The night passed away without sleep. One of my smiling nurses explained that she has had 3 children and 4 kidney stones. The kidney stones hurt worse, there's precious little you can do to prepare for them or prevent them, and nothing much anyone can do other than give you a CT scan and some narcotics. But they come to pass.

For Joy, as emotionally effected and drained by the night's events as I was, church and her myriad responsibilities passed away and she survived.

A 3mm stone is hanging around somewhere inside me, waiting to be passed. And then it will all have come to pass. Until another one comes. And passes.

A song and favorite poem, "Even This Shall Pass Away," on the subject.

Recitation: Doc & Cov 101:16

For those who don't speak toddler, that's
"Doctrine and Covenants 101:16 says, 'Therefore let your hearts be comforted concerning Zion; for all flesh is in mine hands; be still and know that I am God."
We've explained to him that when we remember that God is our Father and that He loves us, we can have peace and be still even when things aren't going well.

Next up: John 3:16 (Why he's learning this)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

One person's faith vs anti-Mormon literature

The person is Greg Smith. Last year he explained to a conference of people interested in the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints that at one point in his life someone had thrown some anti-Mormon literature at him. He had to figure out what he was going to do about it. Below the fold is most of what he said about his personal journey to find answers.

In short, his prayed that he would trust God and not leave Him, then asked if following up a line of serious research and study on the question would damaging to his spiritual life. His spiritual life and commitment couldn't wait the years it would take to answer his questions thoroughly. So he had to make a choice first and trust God for the rest. It was a consecration of his mind. He testifies that that particular prayer was answered and that the results of his further prayer and study have more than repaid him for any sacrifice he might have offered along the way. The bottom line is: Do you trust Father?

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Another announcement: a parasite

Somewhere in mid-August, or maybe long before, I got myself a parasite.


If I had HIV, this could be fatal. As it is, it has the potential to provide - without putting too fine a point on it - some gastrointestinal distress. Such a thing has been plaguing my workout sessions and evenings for 6 weeks now, so I finally went to the doctor, who ran some tests and called me promptly with the news the same day the lab got the samples. I'm on some meds and it will be gone in short order.

As a plus, I got a call from the state health department trying to figure out a) where and when I got it; and b) if I prepare food for anyone outside my family or go swimming anywhere that I might spread it. We couldn't and I don't. It spreads through contaminated water, by the by.

My doctor's best guess is that while I may be carrying this bug around, it's probably not what's really causing my discomfort. The fact that symptoms show marked signs of getting better and worse depending on exercise and stress - and that I have a lot of stress lately - leads him to think they just happened upon the cute little fellow as a byproduct and we might as well ask him to either leave or pay rent. So I am to eat more fiber, rest, and try to avoid thinking about the job market or a 2.5 year old or work or the hundred things I ought to be working on or ... riiight. This may be here for a while.

Announcement: Hy skills

Tonight, Hyrum successfully put on his night shirt 2/3 of the way. He got it over his head and one arm through without any help.

Dinner with Hyrum

We had dinner at the Blue Bayou at Disneyland and Grandma Boo got hold of my camera. In a fit of grandmotherliness, she took many many pictures of her adorable grandson being absolutely adorable. Here, without commentary, are the pictures of Hy and the glowing Buzz Lightyear that accompanied our lemonades.

Buzz flies with sound effects.

Okay, I know I said without commentary, but I had fun with my son. There's a button to turn Buzz on or off. He asked me to turn Buzz on. With one finger poised over the button, I would use my other hand to very obviously twist some other part of Buzz - his wings, his head, his foot, his arm - and then when Hy took it from me, he would try to figure out how Daddy did it. He never caught me, good magician that I am. It provided a great deal of entertainment for the table.

Oh, and good magician that I am, I did finally let Hyrum know how the trick was done. ... About a month after we got home.


Monday, October 4, 2010

More Disney memories

BFF - Best Friends Forever
(or until we get home anyway)

Hyrum's pose when he says
"To infinity and beyond!"

We knew the train would be big hit. What we didn't know was how tired he was.

Hy is just learning how to smile for the camera. This is his pasted-on smile.

"Let's see, I know Narnia is through this picture somewhere...."

A few Disney memories

Hyrum proud of his Mickey ears. "We match!"

In line for Small World.

After Small World and Toontown, he wanted to ride the Snow White ride. That was not our best choice. Snow White is scary. There's a witch. He didn't want to ride any more rides after that! But Mickey helped him feel better. We were reading a few days later and saw a picture of an old woman. He said, "a witch." I told him that, no, she's not a witch, just a sad old woman. This Halloween, he is slowly learning the difference between old women and witches.

The Tea Cup ride was one of Hy's favorites that he asked for again and again the next day. He also really liked the Bug's Life version of the tea cups at CA Adventure that Pop took him to.

I'd ask him, "Do you want faster or slower?"
And that's when I'd get the smile.

Merry-go-rounds were also big.

Friday, September 24, 2010

How to do math today

They have another New Math, only this one makes a lot more sense than the 1970s version. In his parody of the new math, Tom Lehrer mentioned that many parents were embarrassed at being unable to do their child's arithmetic homework. As a public service, let me link you to an article and video to help parents understand the new teaching terms of "gridding" and "chunking."

I was surprised to discover that when I'm doing long multiplication or division in my head, most of the time that's exactly what I'm doing: gridding and chunking. My dad didn't call it that, but those are (some of) the tricks.

A lot of commenters are worried the "new" methods prevent kids from learning why they are doing it. I think that's way off base. Multiplication (gridding) is just a faster way of doing addition and division (chunking) is a faster way of subtracting something ... a lot of times. By teaching kids to solve easier problems and add the answers up by gridding and chunking they are learning how multiplication and division are just addition and subtraction sped up.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Hyrum has a favorite poem

Shel Silverstein's "Colors" from Where the Sidewalk Ends (I hear tell another book is coming out next year by the deceased, by the by)
My skin is kind of sort of brownish
Pinkish yellowish white.
My eyes are greyish blueish green,
But I'm told they look orange in the night.
My hair is reddish blondish brown,
But it's silver when it's wet.
And all the colors I am inside
Have not been invented yet.

Today Hy was telling Joy that his eyes are green. No, they're greyish greenish blue, but if the poem says they're green, by golly they're going to be green for quite some time.

Hy's favorite part is the last line. That's very appropriate. All the colors he is inside have not been invented yet. I can't wait to see what he paints.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Some great Disney Videos

Well, if I can upload videos using the old settings on blogspot, I will! Here are the videos I alluded to earlier.

Hyrum walks like Mickey, then discovers him in the car (you may want to turn up the brightness on your computer -the parking garage was DARK):

Hyrum pantomimes with Chip:

Hyrum goes to infinity and beyond:

Hyrum watches popcorn popping:

Sing Along with Hyrum

We All Go Traveling By

Mickey Mouse Club March - recorded in stealth mode behind closed doors

"Mickey Mouse Club, Mickey Mouse Club. Who's the leader of the club that's made for you and me? M-I-C-K-E-Y M-O-U-S-E"
He sang this over and over at Disneyland.

A resurrection

Some of you may remember Hyrum's fascination with Fantasia 2000. For a while, Pomp and Circumstance (Duck Song), Carnival of the Animals (Yo-Yo Song), Pines of Rome (Whale Song), and Stravinsky's Firebird Suite (Firebird Song) were all that were played around here. During church one Sunday when we kept him reverent by drawing pictures of cars for him, he asked me to draw Firebird.

Then one day he got scared of the Firebird. He started whimpering during it. He would say "No no no" when she got near the volcano (smart boy!). He started saying no only when the music was playing. It really fell out of favor.

It fell so far out of favor, I took it off the play list. It's not even there.

But on Sundays the play list is a little shorter, particular for the cartoons we watch after his daily scripture clip on TV. So I offer Duck Song or Firebird or VeggieTales or the Choir or something else. Today he wanted Firebird.

Are you sure? You want Firebird? "Yes, I want watch Firebird." Okay. I guess I'm glad Joy is in the shower....

We sat on the couch and I held him, stroking his hair as she neared the volcano. I told him, "Now you remember his eyes are going to pop out, right?" He didn't even jump or blink when the firebird showed. He didn't cower. He didn't hold my hand. His breathing didn't change (an attentive father am I) as the firebird ravaged the land and killed everything in sight. He didn't flinch at all when he ate the spring spirit! Dude.

Then he said, "again."


"Firebird again. Go back." Well that's a new phrase.

I went back and we watched the firebird jump out and devour everything ... again. He was very calm. He asked for it yet again, but I said, no, let's finish watching it. And as ever the spring spirit is resurrected and restores the land to health and life, fulfilling the cycle of "Life, Death, and Renewal" Angela Lansbury introduces. A beautiful testimony of the power of the Savior's Atonement and Resurrection.

He's asked for it all day long. I'm not sure what happened, but ... It's baa-ack.

Hyrum recites 1:1

At stake conference in my parents' ward, we heard the son of a general authority praise his mother for being a strict scriptorian. ... unless that's scriptorienne. In either case, he urged us all to begin memorizing scriptures post haste.

I realized this would be an ideal way to teach Hyrum. He enjoys repetition like nothing else, so our family fun time now includes a brief scripture recitation. ... But where to start? I know!

After one week, here is our 2.5 year old reciting his first memorized scripture with something not far from glee. [Blogspot is still having problems with videos. Hope this works.]
For those of you who don't speak toddler [Mommy needed to hear it twice], that's the first article of faith "We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost." The first take was pretty hilarious. He said, "We believe in God the Eternal let me see the pictures please" as he reached out for the camera. The camera has a silent mode, but I prefer calling it the stealth mode: he performs much better when he doesn't know he's being preserved.

We think the next few will be short statements about each member of the Godhead. Not sure which we'll do for the Father [Mos 4:9? 2N 2:24? Matt 6:9-10?], but John 3:16 and John 14:26 are likely to be the next two. Section 130:22 may feature in there somewhere too. We'll see. There are so many good scriptures to choose from! Especially if you include short statements from longer passages.

Not that there's any rush. It's just exciting.

Hyrum's Many Friends

If you ask Hyrum what he enjoyed most about Disneyland, his answer will probably be...

"Mickey and Minnie"  We saw a lot of Minnie and she was the first character he liked. Actually, the first day Hyrum was not very interested in characters. Chip, Dale, Tigger, Pooh, Eeyore, a well-versed Fairy Godmother, and Captain Hook - all at Minnie's breakfast - none could entice Hy out from his corner in the booth. But Minnie? Oh yes, please.

I did take a moment to ask Eeyore what he felt about Disney's marketing board painting him blue instead of gray in most of their promotional stuff these days. He gave a character-istic shrug: "What are you gonna do? At least they noticed me."

Tigger did a very good job, popping up behind Hyrum in the window. He was more interested in the Tigger in the window than in person, but I did manage to convince him to give a high 5. After breakfast, we went up to Toontown to meet the mayor.

Mickey of course was a hit. Hy turned around to show us how excited he was, then grabbed his toy Mickey to give live Mickey. Hyrum is telling me right now about a dream he had with Mickey on a train. This is the first dream Hyrum has reported. Hugs and pictures (and a little prying with a crowbar) later, Toontown revealed its other treasures:

Pluto balancing an autograph book on his nose and getting an eskimo kiss in return.

And Goofy doing a standard Goofy imitation. Hy was eager to get to Goofy but oddly eager to get away too. And that was Toontown.

I developed a hypothesis at Toontown that, given the propensities of Mormons to have a lot of kids, latter-day saints are probably more likely to have little ones and hence more likely to be at Toontown and Fantasyland than other areas of the park. Add to that a higher probability of having children too young to go to school and I guessed that there would probably be more Mormons-per-capita at Disneyland and Toontown while we were there than usual.... I just noticed some of the families looked a little different in Toontown - fewer tattoos, more modest outfits, less cussing, more parents speaking kindly to their children, more parents kissing and holding hands.... Then later at Crush Turtle Talk, both families he interviewed were from Utah and both answered his challenge to have 65 kids by saying "We're working on it." Yeah, I smell a Mormon. [I'm going to try to get that phrase trademarked.]

I have to say, the Woody characters were very direct. We saw him several times at different parks, and whenever he was walking to his location and someone wanted a picture, he'd just point at the picture spot and direct traffic as he continued moseying. I already talked about meeting Buzz.

Hyrum couldn't have been more thrilled.

Despite Chip's tepid reception at breakfast on Tuesday, Hy was well versed in character interactions by Wednesday afternoon and greeted Chip happily. He had a long, pantomimed discussion with Chip that I got on video. They looked pretty good together. In these next couple pictures you also see my hat moving from person to person as Hyrum got more and more excited with it. I'm thankful Mommy saved it. She always looks good in my hats anyway.

I gotta toot my own horn just a little. We knew the characters Hy was most interested in, so I enquired at City Hall on Main Str. when and where to find Buzz, Woody, and Donald. We missed Donald the first time he showed up, but spoke to his handlers (it's always political!) to figure out when he'd show up next and we were WAITING for him.

Hy was oddly wary of Mary Poppins and Bert. Then I got her to say her magic word backwards for us and he brightened up.

We spent a lot of time on Main Street and listened to their ~5 song playlist many times. Apparently, they have decided that Oklahoma, Iowa (Music Man), and Philadelphia (Happiest Millionaire) are the defining areas for Main Street, USA. If it weren't for Fortuosity and Let's Have a Drink On It, Main Street would be entirely a midwestern phenomenon. Among the songs I noted one that I have officially named the March of the Departing Grandparents because "They' Gone About As Fer As They Kin Go."

But two days of characters weren't enough. Hyrum missed Daisy. Daisy really does get the short end of the stick as far as Disney's main cast is concerned. So we hiked around town to get to a place with a character breakfast and is the one place in all of Disneyland and CA Adventure that regularly features Daisy. He also got an extra Mickey, Pluto, Minnie, and Stitch thrown in (not to mention peanut butter, chocolate, and banana french toast). (No, he didn't take a bite. Yes, I did.)

Hyrum's patience and perseverence were richly rewarded with character kisses.

Surprisingly, he liked Stitch. Joy does Not. This Stitch didn't follow instructions well even when he was leading the kids in surfing or hula hooping. Pretty entertaining for the parents when the MC told the kids to follow Stitch and Stitch left the room. So the MC had to lead the kids. I'm trying to imagine the conversation in the locker room afterward: "Dude, when did your head get too big for your costume?" "Chill, man. That peanut butter chocolate banana french toast was coming out. Do you know how hard it is to clean polymascotfoamalate?"

So anyway, Hyrum had a magical time with characters. Characters we saw, but Hyrum did not want to: Dale, Tigger, Pooh, Eeyore, a well-versed Fairy Godmother, Captain Hook (scary), Snow White, Gepetto [despite Pinnochio being a new favorite movie, ride, and artwork], Mr. Incredible, the green army man from Toy Story, Lightning McQueen, and Mater.

Are you in there?

Hyrum is sick today, so we're doing church via Mormon Messages and VeggieTales and seminary videos. We both really liked this one and it seemed particularly appropriate after the last post to include this one:

Hyrum and the Magical Grandparents

My parents (Pop and Boo) are really nice. They flew us out to California this month to spend a week and a half with them and to take their grandson to Disneyland. He went last year as an infant, but this time we spent a month or more prepping him for rides and characters, and he has an actual memory now to enjoy it with.

My mother is magical. She has a lot of childlike love and excitement in her. So she had a lot of great ideas about how to make this trip particularly magical for Hyrum. It is no coincidence that almost every ride (or walk between rides) if I asked Hy who he wanted to be with, the answer was Grandma "Boo."

We drove to Disneyland on Labor Day Monday and made a short pit stop at an outlet store along the way. A little later we parked so Pop could bring his mother some medicine and we were joined by a visitor....

A 2 and a half foot tall Mickey Mouse! Hyrum fell in love and showered him with kisses. He thanked Grandma Boo as a fast friendship was forged. (I would love to post the video, but it's too long and blogspot is complaining.) He held Mickey on his lap the remaining hour to Disneyland, slept with Mickey, and carried Mickey over much of Disney [more than Daddy expected but less than Mommy promised] the next several days. Mickey cheered him when he was sad. Mickey played with him. Mickey spoke and sang with him. All was Mickey.

Mickey was a major attraction for the park's other guests too! A lot of parents wanted to know where we got him and how much (grandparents are wonderful things). Kids' eyes widened and jaws dropped. Several asked their parents if that was the Real Mickey. Some families took pictures of us! We were a genuine attraction. When Hyrum met Mickey in person, he gave live Mickey the doll Mickey. He kept coming back to Mickey later, interrupting other people's turns with Mickey if we didn't hold him back.

The magic only increased with the next gifts from Pop and Boo: Buzz and Woody pajamas. He knew what it meant the moment he put them on: "I'm Buzz!" Once again, other children stopped to look and point at Buzz walking amongst them. The best part of being in his Buzz outfit was that he got to meet Woody, Jessie, and Buzz while wearing it. Buzz wrote an extra long dedication in Hy's autograph book. Hyrum was pretty much in awe and wanted to stare at Buzz and Woody as long as they were in sight. Looking at this picture, Hyrum got very excited and told how he and Buzz "match." They have a walking garbage can at Disneyland (named "Push") who talks to guests, and it talked to Hyrum too, asking him if he were Buzz Lightyear and "I thought you were taller." Hyrum asks to wear his Buzz or Woody outfit every day ... or everyday he isn't asking to be Bob the Builder. The Mouse ears I got him have become Buzz's helmet. Technically, the Buzz pajamas are from Pop while Woody is from Boo.

Hyrum also scored a pair of "Smurf-colored glasses" from them. When he puts them on with the shaded Mickey side on, he looks around and declares that everything is "dark" and hurriedly opens them again. His favorite way to wear them is with one dark Mickey on and one off. Combined with the Mickey ears and a couple other Mickey paraphernalia he got, he's quite the walking advertisement.

Pop has always been one of Hyrum's favorite people. Pop is the Promethean Bringer of Technology after all. He also takes Hyrum to character breakfasts. Pop fought with Captain Hook to defend Hyrum and Joy. Pop is the Buzz Lightyear ride champion.

Magical Grandma also has a magical popcorn popper at her house. We warned Hyrum the day before we returned home that we were leaving. He said, "Stay with Pop and Boo. Make popcorn."

Is there anything you would like to say to Grandma Boo and Pop, Hyrum?
"Pop and Boo make popcorn. Then it's time to go to sleep. Thank you for Disneyland."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Hyrum's Top Music - Jul-Sep

Yeah, more time between music updates - that's what was needed to really separate the favorites from the less-so. Amazingly, his all-time most requested song (Bob the Builder Theme) was only heard 6 times in two months, despite his learning how to sing it! Oh, how the mighty are falling ... slowly.

So while I search the house for the cord to connect the camera to the computer, here are his top music choices for the last two months with new favorites in bold:

1 - Train Tapper (bluegrass banjos that sound like a train) - 58
2 - Let's Go Fly a Kite - 57    He sings this one to himself
3 - A Musicological Journey Through the 12 Days of Christmas - 53
4 - Praise to the Man (Roger Hoffman) - 41
5 - 10 Little Indians - 32
6 - Mickey Mouse Club March - 31    He sings this one to himself also
7 - Following the Leader - 30
8 - It's a Small World - 28
9 - If you chance to meet a frown - 23
10 - Tarantara - 19-20
        You Can Fly
13 - Smurf Theme - 16-18
        Praise to the Man (Mack Wilberg)
        When She Loved Me
        Imperial March
        I Will Watch Over You
18 - Handel's Hallelujah Chorus - 13-15
        Primary Colors
        76 Trombones

All-time favorites below the fold

New lyrics: sitting in the cat-bird seat

Before bed, Hy and I were listening to that old children's favorite, the green grass grew all around. You know, each verse adds another item to the chorus so you end up with the prettiest little feather that you ever did see, and the feather on the bird and the bird in the egg and the egg in the nest and the ... (Mouseketeer version here - Hy will flip when I show it to him tomorrow morning)

So I sang it to him also while getting him ready for bed and asked him to fill in blanks as usual. He came up with some pretty interesting changes.

And in this egg, there was a _____...
"Pigeon!"    [ahhh, he's remembering chasing birds on the beach, seagulls and pigeons. Ooookay.]
The prettiest little pigeon that you ever did see....

And on this pigeon there was a ______...
"Cat!"         [oh my]
And the cat ate the pigeon and the pigeon in the egg and ....

Cute kid.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Random Disney comments: mothers

Disney movies gives moms short shrift. In most movies, moms aren't even present. There are a lot more missing moms than dads, and so percentage wise many fewer mothers have strong relationships with their main character children or strong acting roles. Dads, by contrast, are wonderful people - lots of strong relationships, there's even a grand total of Three movies where the dad is the hero. Even if they are absent, dads are revered and mentioned while a missing mother doesn't get a mention.

You may not believe me. You may even be able to cite one of the few good moms given that they just gave us one. But let's take a look at a list of the Walt Disney Animation Studios major motion pictures (so we're not counting Pixar yet). And let's not even bother with the musical montage pieces, like Fantasia, and there are a few movies I haven't seen so I'm not suited to comment on them. So that throws out 21 of the 49 films right off the bat as not having a mother, but nobody's surprised. Here is how I score the mothers (or mother figure) and fathers (or father figure) [Peter Pan is a special case where the parents have a weak role, but the whole play/novel is in praise of mothers and motherhood.]

Mothers Fathers
Evil 3 2
Antagonist 0 2
Missing 12 6
Weak 3 3
Strong 7 11

None of the evil or antagonistic parents are actually parents of the hero: step-mothers, an uncle, a pair of villains abusing the girl in their care, and Tarzan's gorilla-dad. But check out the missing. Moms are twice as likely to be missing as dads. There are only two movies that have a mom but not a dad.

Just looking at the recent (since Little Mermaid) spate of movies, mothers are missing in more than half of them; Tarzan has a strong mother role, Lilo & Stitch has a strong mother role (I think - I haven't seen it, but I've seen plenty of promo shots with the mom), and the Princess and the Frog has a strong mother role. But even then, mother is still alive and all the girl cares about is her relationship with her dead father. Its his dream of a restaurant that matters, not mom's dream of grandchildren; it's visions of daddy that drive her, inspire her, and tempt her in at least 3 separate musical numbers while Oprah [Oprah!] gets one.

Meanwhile, the only recent movie missing a daddy is the Rescuers Down Under [I'm not sure about Lilo & Stitch, again]. Every father figure has a strong role, with one villain [Frollo] and one antagonist [Tarzan's gorilla-dad]. Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Simba, Mulan, Chicken Little, and Tia are all driven by their relationship with dear old daddums. Dad may not always understand, but reconciliation comes in every case and the love of child for parent and parent for child is more than evident.

Pixar has the same issue. Andy has both parents but they're largely invisible. No parents in Monsters. A strong dad (no moms) in Cars, Nemo, AND Ratatouille; two strong parents in Incredibles (one of whom is the hero); and Up where there is one weak mother relationship, an absent and sorely missed father relationship dominating one lead character's motivations, and another strong father-figure who is a hero.

Mind, it's great to be a Disney Dad. Can we give the moms a little more love?

Random Disney comments: most annoying character

I just can't wait to blog about Hyrum's trip to Disneyland this week, but I have to since I want to do it with pictures. For now it'll have to suffice to say he loved it - fulfilled every dream. In the meantime, I guess I'll just do a few Disney riffs I've been thinking about as we got ready for his big trip.

There are some Disney characters that I find annoying. As a group, they tend to be quite self-centered and not learn important lessons that would make them better people. Ariel comes to mind, but there is a reasonable hope that marriage (as a teenager?? no worse than Snow White's when she's supposed to be 10) will do her some good.

My least favorite character is Tinkerbell. It's not just that she's vain, self-centered, immodest, and jealous, and enjoys mocking others. Though let's start with that. Consider what it says for someone that applause brings them back to life: diva, much? Her merchandise defines her as "sassy." Oh, that's what I want my children to be! Not only that, but her figurines, dolls, snowglobes, and other knick-knacks regularly forget to put a little more green paint on when she sits cross-legged or is flying by. Good thing there are no paparazzi in Neverland!

More importantly look at what her jealousy leads her to do. She is willing to sell Wendy and the boys into slavery! Kidnapping, shanghaiing, slavery she agrees to and an accomplice in multiple attempted murders that she didn't suspect even though she is willing making a deal with a bumbling devil. Legally, she is responsible for those as well.

And what is her reward for this treasonous, duplicitous betrayal? She becomes the second symbol of the Disney corporation! Who opens every Disney movie? Not Mickey, but Tink. Not only that, she gets her own cartoon series as lead, the only secondary character other than Jimminy Cricket to get one, if I recall.

Down with Tink!