Friday, April 30, 2010

Three Videos from April

From Easter:

Wearing Momm'y shoes
Turn Taking (see earlier post)

Hyrum vs. Pres. Benson

Pres. Ezra Taft Benson would be proud. "Book of Mormon"

Hyrum's First Major Purchase

Hi there. Hy here.

Mommy knows her stuff. She knows to let me be in charge. It's kind of inevitable anyway. Life is easier the earlier my parents recognize that fact.

And the fact is, I'm getting to be a big boy. I squoze my body through a gap in my crib and all of me fell out ... except my huge cranium. Mommy says I have to say here that I'm also the one who created the gap by breaking one of the support bars. I stood on the ground for I'm not sure how long with my head stuck in the bars until my nap was over and Mommy came to get me.

Mommy decided it was time for me to get a big boy bed. She did some looking online. She and Daddy talked about it. They had different ideas about what kind of bed to get for me. They hadn't made any decisions except to 1) rotate my bed so I couldn't get out that way again and 2) to have Daddy try to install some new protective measures. He and I went to the store to get some lumber. I had fun with Daddy.

Mommy had other ideas, though. She says it wasn't her plan to buy me a bed today. Little does she know of my telepathic powers. She went to some garage sales looking for a bed, then figured she might as well try the Salvation Army, and that just naturally led her to WalMart since it's right next door physically and financially.

We went to the big boy bed section. I saw a box. I ran to it and hugged it. I wanted to make sure Mommy knew what bed I wanted. "Buzz bed! Buzz bed!" She tried to get me to look at other boxes too. Cars ... Mickey ... "Box! Buzz box!" I wasn't happy unless the box was in our cart.

I won out. My first major purchase. I even convinced Mommy to get me a toy organizer that has a Buzz box too. Score! Thank you, Grammy, for the money.

Daddy came home and found that Mommy and I were fit to be tied. I had gotten out my screwdriver from my toolbox to help assemble my new bed. I hit it against the pieces and moved them around and climbed all over everything, screaming and laughing. Mommy wasn't very good at this, so she needed all my help.

Daddy didn't seem to think so. He took me away to play with my Bob stickers for a while. Then Mommy called out that she was all done.

Sleep Buzz bed! I'm sleeping in my Buzz bed right now! I have the cutest smile on my face you ever did see. I got to reward my parents when they do what's right, after all. And I have to report, it seems that both Mommy and Daddy are happy with my choice.

And I crawled right into my bed and I laid down (I've always been good about that) and I've stayed there until I fell asleep. Daddy and Mommy are so proud.

Buzz bed! Buzz bed! To Dreamland and beyond!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

LDS Greenery

“It’s about creating a place of worship that works in harmony with the environment,” said H. David Burton, Presiding Bishop of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints... . “For decades we have looked for innovative ways to use natural resources in our meetinghouses that reflect our commitment as wise stewards of God’s creations.” ... Bishop Burton said, “As the Church continues to grow globally, and there is a greater demand for meetinghouses, more than ever we need to engage in wise construction practices to benefit both the environment and our members.”

Jared Doxey, director of architecture, engineering and construction for the Church, said ... that “conservation is a natural built-in part of the planning process."

In fact, around 75 percent of the technologies qualifying for LEED certification have been used in existing Church buildings for several years. 
“I clearly think we’ve ramped it up,” said Davies, “We use emerging technologies in our building design, from the use of materials to computer aided design, to energy management systems.”
For example, Church buildings in the Baltic Nation of Latvia are built with radiant heated floors for greater energy efficiency during the harsh winter months, the tabernacle in Vernal, Utah was rebuilt into the Vernal Temple by reusing existing materials from the historic structure, and a meetinghouse in Susanville, California, is heated exclusively through geothermal energy produced from a well located on the property.
Emerging technologies also extends to landscaping. Moisture sensors monitor weather conditions via satellite to shut off Church sprinkler systems during rainfall at many meetinghouses across the country. The Church Office Building in Salt Lake City even utilizes several underground spring wells for heating and cooling.
 More about solar-powered meetinghouses here.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Hyrum vs. Mickey

Hyrum's love for Mickey Mouse grows with every encounter. He loved Mickey in Sorcerer's Apprentice and learned to ask for "Mickey Song," but Donald and "Duck Song" was still preferred. He loved his little Sorcerer Mickey doll for his birthday and the Mickey birthday cartoon on Youtube. Just before we left for Connecticut to spend some time with my brother and his wife, he discovered the Mickey Mouse Club March song in a Disney songbook we have. "Mickey Song" mean's Sorcerer's Apprentice and "Mickey March" is the TV theme. It's been another excuse for him to parade around the room, circling a chair ... or Mommy!

As soon as we arrived in CT, he discovered that Aunt Em is a Disney fan. She has Mickey and Minnie action figures, a Disney autograph book with Mickey on the cover, Disney Dance Dance Revolution, and Disney Scene It - all featuring Mickey. He will happily spend quite some time enthralled looking at a box with Mickey on it. Donald is still just "Duck" but Mickey is "Mickey." He carries them around with him, he sleeps with them, he is eager to play with any of it as soon as he gets back in the main room.

Will Mickey replace Bob and Buzz? Emie doubts it. Only time will tell.

Hyrum's happiest smile today, though, was when Uncle Steve and Daddy sang from 1776 for him just before bed. Mommy smiled pretty nicely too.


I'll spare you the economic details, but it's a good year to buy strawberries and jam, can, or otherwise preserve them. So many strawberries are flooding the US market at the same time that farmers are getting rid of strawberry plants so they can get an earlier start on other crops.

Being J.R.R.

A rib-tickling website, How to Write Badly Well, brings us this

HOMAGE WEEK #5: Try too hard to be J.R.R. Tolkien

Leotharg son of Peotharg, grandkin of Beotharg, whose horn had sounded over the fields of Giethen at the battle of Eyoiwylin Pass even as his people, descendants of Thargotharg the forgotten, sought shelter in the Great Forest of Than’Dythyll, sat down heavily.
‘Epyothnell of Yangdril,’ he said, ’protector of those who are lost and prophesied Lord of Balthangdrang’Grathril.’
‘Speak,’ replied Epyothnell of Yangdril, protector of those who are lost and prophesied Lord of Balthangdrang’Grathril.
‘My wounds are deep,’ said Leotharg son of Peotharg, nephew of Eotharg, second cousin of Uluklolotharg, ‘but I come before you to ask a boon.’
‘If it is in my power, it shall be made so,’ said Epyothnell of Yangdril of the bloodline of Esh, namer of the tree and maker of the book of chronicles. Leotharg bowed his head in supplication, as was the custom, and spoke.
I want to change my name,’ he said.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Anticipated Day Arrived

I live for the annual talent show. I start seriously planning for it at least 6 months in advance, and give next year's performance thought even the day after I just finished the last performance. "Do you wait a whole day," Joy quips. "Joy knows her husband." What a pity the ward and the stake don't have a talent show anymore! Waa!

Thankfully, before we left the Branch, I got myself a Go Directly to Boardwalk card. So when the Branch held their talent show on Friday, Derrill was ready.

I had one of the silliest ideas I think I've developed. I gathered several instruments that I cannot play, read up on their history, development, and -oh yes - how to play them ... and gave myself almost no practice time. I announced one of my favorite grad school lines: In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. But in practice there often is. This would be a test of whether almost-pure theory could overcome total lack of practice.

"He just wanted to be like Professor Harold Hill" - the Think system. As I described the idea to Joy in September, I wondered which songs I should play. I started suggesting that I could start with this one song and then transition to another, and so on. Then Joy turned to me in the car and said, with that special look in her eye, "You actually think you can pull this off, don't you??"

I didn't get near the time I intended for studying theory, sadly. But I got just as little practice time as I could! I borrowed a guitar and an accordion on Saturday and Hyrum was kind enough to loan me a harmonica that he got for his birthday Monday night.

With about 15 minutes' practice on the guitar, 7 on the harmonica, and close to a half-hour on the accordion, I played and song a parody of "Ghost Riders" on the guitar; "Praise to the Man" on the harmonica, and "I Heard the Voice of Jesus" on the accordion. I also sang the rendition of "Popcorn Popping" I came up with one night for Hyrum done in a blues style.

I also told everyone, this would either be a demonstration of musical talent, or an opportunity to see me fall flat on my face. Either way - it should be fun. In fact, in the dress rehearsal that morning, I flubbed pretty badly. The performance went pretty well. I was quite pleased. I could tell what sections really needed a bit more practice, but I got through all the songs with major mishap, got some laughter, and the MC asked for a second round of applause for me. Pres. Horrocks, when he saw me later today, had to comment again that it took a lot of guts.

At one point, my fevered brain had imagined turning on a techno song ("I Can Walk on Water" by Basshunter) and playing that same song on guitar, accordion, bagpipe, and piano on each verse, including singing AND dancing. It looked really cool in my mind. But you can't get a bagpipe in Ithaca, and it turns out (from my studies) that you have to use a practice bagpipe chanter first to teach you proper breath control and fingering. Actually, the music store people laughed at me when I asked if they had a bagpipe for rent.

Thanks to everyone who loaned me their instruments! Thanks to Joy for giving me time to practice and useful pressure to keep my practice time limited, and to Hyrum for cheering "Again!" after each song. I love my little critic

Someone was taking video. If you happen to know who, please let me know so I can get a copy.

Conversations with a Toddler

Something similar to the following conversation has happened two or three times now in the Watson home. It's getting to be a regular game!

H: I want Tarantara, please.
D: Hyrum, it's Daddy's turn. After my song is over, you can listen to Tarantara.
H: Daddy's tu'n over; Hyrum's tu'n.

He says this with such regal finality, it's hilarious. This is the The Most Important Thing that could be said. And his diction is the best it ever is for that phrase. Then it gets more complicated.

D: It's Mommy turn. After Mommy's turn, it's Daddy's turn. Then it will be Hyrum's turn.
H: Hyrum tu'n.
D: No, it's Mommy's turn.
H: Mommy tu'n over; Hyrum's tu'n.
D: No, Mommy's turn over, Daddy's turn. Daddy's turn over, Hyrum's turn.
H: Mommy's turn over, Hyrum's tu'n.
D: (repeat until Daddy's turn for music has already started)
H: Daddy's turn over, Hyrum's turn.
D: Yes, Daddy's turn over, Hyrum's turn. Hyrum's turn over, Mommy's turn.
H: Hyrum's turn over ... Hyrum's turn! Hyrum's turn over, Mommy's turn.

He did once get three turns together correctly, but then he started haggling again. Joy says, "It feels really similar to a lot of life. 'I know that this puzzle piece goes here. But will it also go here? or here? or here?'"

We had another conversation with him yseterday. He was tired of being at the temple because Daddy is doing a better job not letting him disturb the other patrons. (speaking of which, it was really interesting to see how differently he moved when I told him, "no run. Hyrum walk." It was a different kind of deliberate, slow walk that I have never seen in that boy!) Anyway, he got bored and said, "Go home. Go home." So I took him out to the car, but we were not even down the temple steps yet before he said, "Temple again. Temple again."

Strength in Weakness

I was reading up about "firmness" in the Book of Mormon yesterday on our way to the Palmyra Temple. I noticed the people of Ammon, who became known for the firmness in the faith of Christ. Mormon gives us as the symbol of that firmness their burying their weapons of war. Immediately after the king encourages them to do so, in fact, is when Mormon tells us of their firmness in keeping their commitments.

It struck me that if the people of Ammon had God-like firmness, there really would have been no need to bury their weapons. No matter what, they wouldn't use them, so why go to the trouble?

Instead, they recognized that their firmness was not perfect. The king's speech is entirely about how grateful they are that God has forgiven them and the terrible consequences if they should stain their weapons with blood again. So as a commitment device, they bury them, lest they become tempted to take up their weapons again, lest in seeing their families and friends being slaughtered by the marauders who will hit them on the very next page, they break their oath and take up the weapons - even in self-defense. To make sure that weakness wouldn't overtake them, they buried their weapons.

They became firm because they acknowledged their weakness and took steps to neutralize it. Just as courage is not the absence of fear, strength is not the absence of weakness. They were strong, not because there was no weakness, but because they responded to their weakness in a way that made them strong.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Bizarro-World Hyrum

I read this post from a friend and could not imagine a better opposite to describe Hyrum. So here is an edited version of a day in the life of Muryh [Murray], Hyrum's not-particularly-evil-in-fact-it-might-be-kinda-nice twin.

[Murray] is pretty passionate about eating. He takes the whole act quite seriously, and heaven forbid anything keep him from his food! Preparing meals is torturous for that little boy. He can smell the food cooking, and he wonders why it's not already in his mouth. He'll pace the kitchen, back and forth, continually asking to eat, and occasionally giving a quick screech to let us know his dissatisfaction at having to wait. Most of the time, I'll take pity on him and hand him a pretzel to munch on. I know how painful an empty stomach feels when you smell good food cooking.
Meal prayers have also been an interesting affair ever since [Murray] started solids. We'll be sitting around the table, all the food set before us, sometimes steamy, almost always delicious, and ready to eat. Never before that moment has the food been so close to consuming, and suddenly he just can't stand it any longer. ... It's only recently that he's started folding his little arms, and it's only recently that he's beginning to show a little patience through the prayer, if only because he's curious about what the heck the rest of us our doing when we should be feeding his face instead.
So now that you're aware of all this, it should come as no surprise that learning to communicate his need for food would be top on his list of priorities....
What would it be like, to have a child who actually wanted to eat and who told us he wanted to eat? Somehow, I can't imagine it.

Comparing Missions

D: I kept on writing home about these "golden investigators" we found on my mission, but then it came to nothing. I pretty much thought anyone who would talk to us was golden.

J: That's just a sign that your mission was hard.

D: It is?

J: Yes. People were friendly in our area, so friendly they had a really hard time telling you no. So they wouldn't show up for their appointments or show up 20 minutes late or send their kids up front to say "My Dad says he isn't home."

D: Oh, they did that in Germany too.

J: Really? I never heard of that anywhere outside of South America.

D: Oh yeah. It happened back home too, on my cul-de-sac selling Boy Scout stuff....

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hyrum's Top Ten - Mar/Apr

1. Tarantara - 87 times. Reigning champion for 2 months
2. Praise to the Man - 71
3. 10 Little Indians - 57
4. Star Wars: Imperial March "Ani Song" - 54
5. Star Trek: Wrath of Khan - 29
6. The Spirit of God "Fire Burning" - 28
7. Bob the Builder - 26
8-9. Did Jesus Really Live Again? - 19
8-9. They, the Builders of the Nation - 19
10. The Marvelous Toy - 18
Go Home with Bonnie Jean - 18
Indiana Jones Theme - 18
Handel's Hallelujah Chorus - 18

And if only they came out with a soundtrack for 1776, "The Egg" and "Yours, Yours, Yours" would undoubtedly be on the Top Ten also. He asks for them every night at bed.

All time Top 10:
1. Bob the Builder - 764
2. Handel's Hallelujah Chorus - 413
3. Tarantara - 183
4. Little Drummer Boy - 106
5. Seventy-Six Trombones - 101
6. Pomp and Circumstance - 85
7. Praise to the Man - 71
8. Imperial March - 68
9. Pines of Rome - 58
10. Ten Little Indians - 57

And after the break are a bunch of other top songs just for my records.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Hyrum Sings

We discovered something fascinating this weekend, all thanks to Hyrum's refrain "No sing." Ever since Hyrum could babble, one of his favorite babble-phrases was "digga digga digga." He'll wander around for minutes at a time saying "digga digga digga." This weekend, when Joy and I start saying "digga digga digga" with him, he turns to us annoyed and says, "No sing."

Could it be??

Today I tested it out and asked Hyrum if he wanted to sing. He said, "Digga digga digga." I said "digga digga digga" and he said "No sing." I asked "Is digga digga digga singing? Yes or no?" He said, "Yes."

Hyrum has been "singing" for more than a year!

He also tried a more traditional singing into a toy microphone we got him. I invited him to sing and he said "a" in an a-tonal way. He's thinking about it.

He also says the words along with a few of his favorite songs even when we don't give him a blank to fill in. Today he was missing listening to Tarantara, so wandered around saying "We go, we go, we go, we go, we go, we go..." punctuated by the occasional "tantara."

Would you like to have a Hymnal Now?

A mommy blog.
My sweet son, who I had branded as only taking away toys seems to be learning to give toys too. I was feeling a little emotional today at church and had been crying. The Nelson baby came crawling under the pew we were sitting on and I picked her up. She really made my day with her open eyed interest and smiles. Hyrum was interested in her too. He reached out to her and she reached for his Hymnal. He pulled it away, but didn't try to get away from her like he usually does when someone reaches for a toy. He thought for a long while and after her attention was already somewhere else, Hyrum reached the book out to her, as though he had decided it would be ok for her to have it. Since she was no longer paying attention and he wasn't making any sound to get her attention there was no response on her part. Derrill told Hyrum it was ok, that he could keep the book. He was smiling and I was warmed in my heart to see him making that little decision to share.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Hyrum vs. Easter Bunny

Hi there. Hy here.

This is me eating my chocolate cross. Mommy and Daddy told me all about Jesus and what He did for us on Easter. We read my New Testament stories all week and Mommy did a special Family Home Evening with pictures from her Primary lesson about Jesus' crucifixion and resurrection.

They also told me there's a fun tradition about an Easter bunny who gives out candy and eggs. So I went on a hunt through the yard on Saturday trying to find my eggs. The Easter bunny brought me some plastic food toys, some play dough tools, and a chocolate Easter bunny and a chocolate cross. I ate my cross all up.

In the picture on the right there are 4 eggs. Can you find them all? If you need some help, that's okay. So did I.

Mommy and Daddy hid the eggs in clever places. There are two by the car, for instance.

We had fun and I got to help decorate the eggs and peel them later. I don't want to eat them yet though.

Happy Easter, everybody!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Weights and Measures

I just finished writing up the chapter on food markets, including a section on the importance of having accurate weights and measures. I would sure appreciate some accurate weights and measures around here, let me tell you.

We got a new scale. The WiiFit scale, as I've complained, is not particularly accurate. Aside from its 2-8 pounds shifts between days, it consistently weighs me one pound less the second time I step on it than the first. Then I'd head to the doctor's office and find they were 6-15 pounds heavier than our scale at home, making every doctor visit a misery.

So now we have a new scale. It measures us both at 8 pounds heavier than the WiiFit. But it randomly changes its weight 3 pounds between times I stand on it. It claims to measure my body fat percent, but all it really does is calculate my BMI (weight divided by height squared), and to tell me the percent that is water weight.

Joy and I were fasting today so I thought I'd have some fun with the new scale. I stepped on just before dinner and it said I weighed the same I did on Monday.

I drank 2 cups of water. Ah! The scale said I gained 3 pounds, none of it water weight.

I drank 2 more cups of water. The scale I lost 1 pound and my water weight went ... down.

I ate dinner (half a plate of veggie stir fry) and drank 2 cups of milk. The scale said I gained 2 more pounds, none of it water weight.

... This does not look good for the "Health o Meter"

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Hyrum's favorite phrases

"No singing." This he is saying to Mommy and me more and more when we feel like singing along.

Good: independence, learning to give directions (an important developmental skill)
Bad: But but but....

Nibley on Easter

Okay, he wasn't discussing Easter, but I'm going to appropriate Hugh Nibley's writings for discussing Easter. This is from "The Terrible Questions," a FARMS talk given in 1988.
There is only one question, the sole question for religion, the only reason for religion existing at all. Religion alone is supposed to answer it, and if religion can't, then religion can't do anything - let us forget religion. ... The real question, of course, is, Is this all there is? ...

Who cares about how politics turn out? Or the economy? Or even the military threat? We're going to die anyway; what difference do any of these things make? Religion exists to answer that question, none others. ... If we exist only to drop into a sea of Nirvana, a sea of nothing - if we are to vanish entirely, we don't care whether there is one god or thousands; whether he's fierce and ferocious, or kind and loving. It makes no difference to you at all; you won't be there. You won't be anything. ...

He is Risen

Happy Easter

Learn Your Duty

The priesthood session of General Conference last night was very interesting for me. It was the first time I attended without a calling. Ever. The first time I went as a deacon, I had a calling.

So over the 19ish years since, I have Pres. Monson (or occasionally someone else) recite to me "Now let every man learn his duty" or "Do your duty, that is best. Leave to thy God the rest." And that was really easy. I knew what my duty was: learn how to be an organist, check; learn how to be a missionary, check; learn how to be a membership clerk, check....

I don't have a duty.

Hyrum: My Example

For Family Home Evening today, I shared with Joy and Hyrum Pres. Dieter F. Uchtdorf's talk from the priesthood session of General Conference on patience. (You can already listen to it here.)

I told them about some research I had heard about before. Children were put alone in a room with a marshmallow and told they could eat it now if they wanted, or if they waited 15 minutes they could have a second marshmallow. The 30% of the children who didn't eat had happier families, higher incomes, fewer incredibly foolish decisions, and were in general better developed human beings than those who were impatient. You can watch the children trying to be patient (or not) here.

I told Hyrum there are two ways to be patient, which I acted out. One 'patient' was whiny, squirmy, tapping my watch, groaning, and frustrated. I call this 'trying to be patient.' The other patient was happy and found something else to do while I waited happily. This was 'being patient.'

I asked Hyrum if he wanted to be patient? Yes, came the response. Okay, let's practice.

I told him if he waited, he could play with his microphone. He waited very patiently while I counted to 10, and squirmed out of my lap but stopped short of grabbing the microphone while I counted to 20. I told him he could take the toy and sing into it. He tried singing for the first time.

He then put the microphone down and told me he wanted to "wait again."

This time I counted to 30 (probably around a minute). He was fine up to 20, which he expected, and squirmed around the last 10 seconds. But again, he held out and got to play with his microphone.

What a son! A son who asks to "Wait again!" While he played, Joy and I discussed the rest of the talk and how much we have to learn.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Drinking or Knocking: A Joy Post

Today at lunch Hyrum and Mommy had this conversation. Hyrum said, “Debbi knock, … knock door,”
Mommy says, “ that’s right Debbi is coming today.”

Hyrum says, “daddy knock,”
Mommy said “Daddy will knock on the door if it is lock when he gets home from work.”

Mommy knocked on the table and said, “Mommy knock”,
Hyrum said. “peaches knock”,
Mommy said, “no peaches don’t knock”.
Hyrum said, “milk knock”.
Mommy said, “No milk doesn’t knock…..”
Hyrum said, “Drink milk,”
Mommy said, “Yes, drink milk.”
Hyrum said, “drink door,”.
Mommy said, “No, doors don’t drink”
Then with great personal satisfaction he exclaimed, “Drink JUICE!”

Which of these is not a joke?

1 - Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka. -- Topeka's Blog

2 - Harvard has decided to auction off 100 slots in next year's freshman class to the highest bidders. - Mankiw

3 - Blattman tells us to "Ask not what you can do for poor African children, but what poor African children can do for you."

4 - The Heritage Foundation is the originator of ObamaCare. - Sumner

5 - Let's turn the London subway into a super hadron collider. - The Independent