Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Negative Book Review

Written by Joy
The Man Who Loved Jane Austen by Sally O'Rourke is a moral deviation for everything I know Jane Austin to stand for. I could not get more than a few chapters into the book, before I had read more morally offensive material than I could tolerate. I have never given a negative review with this violence of affection. But I value too highly the name of Jane Austin and her clean and decent principles put forward in her own writing, to keep myself from biting my tongue. I think that there could be some marit in the book, but that the liberties of using Jane Austin's name and character reference for such a morally indecent story line in unjust. Jane Austin is true to marriage and fidelity in marriage for all of you heroines and there is not reason to believe that she would have wanted to live otherwise.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A Baptism

One day at church, I was surprised to see a colleague with the sister missionaries. She was surprised and delighted to find a familiar face amidst a sea of unfamiliarity. She and her family had visited Temple Square where a sister had told them about eternal families and their hearts were touched by the Holy Spirit. They asked to know more.

I joined her and the missionaries when they met together; I stopped by her office occasionally to talk about religion and food policy; Joy and I had her over to dinner and she returned the favor. It soon became apparent that the question was not whether or not she would discover the truth of the gospel but when she would realize she already knew. Other members stepped in to support, answer questions, and befriend.

Then came the happy day when she declared that she had learned through prayer that Jesus Christ had spoken to Joseph Smith and called him as a prophet, that the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and that this is God's church on earth. She asked me to baptize and confirm her a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This was a glorious and beautiful day to me. Though there were people I had taught as a missionary in Germany who were eventually baptized, I had not gone into the water to baptize anyone before. (In fact, even if one of them had asked me to do it, I would have tried to give the honor and the connection to a local member who would stay in the area longer than I.) It was a deep honor and an answer to over a decade of prayer.

The day of the baptism (the 14th) was a beautiful one. It felt like being at the temple. The bishop mentioned he had never been to a more Spirit-ually charged baptism. Her faith and courage are amazing. She is almost certain to face persecution for her choice among friends and other colleagues. But she stood valiantly and declared her willingness to answer to any person why she believes in the gospel. Many people were moved. Hyrum hasn't stopped talking about it either. How supremely thankful I am that we're still in Ithaca so that I could be there to be one part of supporting one of God's children, whom He had clearly prepared long before this to accept the truth when it was presented to her.

Birthday Cakes

Joy has been creative in the cake baking department. My brother and his wife came up to visit in July for their birthdays and then we went down to them for mine last week.

This was my cake: Moosewood's vegan chocolate cake - shockingly good. This was also Hyrum's cake and Steve's. We're all quite fannish. The design is the smiley I most often use online   :?)

Steve and Emie have taken scuba classes together, she volunteers at an aquarium, studied marine biology, and occasionally is goes by the name Monkeyfish. Put it all together and an aquatic theme becomes a natural for their joint birthday party.

This one is banana-spice. It's surprising how easy it is to craft some of these. We got a booklet recently with designs and Joy was eager to try them out.

I should also mention, we froze the leftover cake from their party and had it a month later when we got back from my birthday at their house. The cakes were still moist and delicious! (The bananas were another story.)

Good job, Joy.

Oh, and one of the fun things about all the birthdays: Hyrum sang to me this morning. He said, "Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday to you. Happy birthday dear Daddy. Happy birthday to you." Later today, he also sang along with the Tabernacle Choir for a moment during Praise to the Man.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

The advantages of a home office in Ithaca

One of the things I enjoy about working at home when the weather is nice is taking some of my endless reading for a walk. There's a delightful shady trail along the brook not far from the house. I can walk and read and breathe the air and hear the water and let nature just slowly osmose its way into me.

A few times I took Hy with me. I'd keep him within eyesight once we got to the park but otherwise leave him free to pick berries and toss pebbles as his heart saw fit. We'd park ourselves by every water feature along the way so he could splash or stir up the little fishes or toss rocks into the water or just charge right through to the next outcropping. At the end of one such visit, he discovered that his neon orange shoes were now dirty and told me and everyone about his "brown shoes."

I'd tell him about whatever he was seeing. On one trip he asked his very first question: "What's that?" as a plane flew overhead out of sight and as a chainsaw buzzed near some homes. We talked about them and woodpeckers and trucks driving by and all sorts of things. Wasn't perhaps the most efficient reading environment, but was Time Well Spent. (I would get through 2-3 papers along the way and figure out how to incorporate them, so it's justifiable.)

If I really wanted exercise, I'd cross the bouncy bridge (Hyrum likes the bouncy bridge) and I or Joy, Hy, and I would hike up a gorge trail to a horse ranch at the top and walk around the track looking at the horses. It's really a wonderful way to spend an hour.

So one of the best things about a home office in Ithaca is not being in it.

Friday, August 27, 2010

A new taste

Hi there. Hy here with a great new drink you've just got to try. It's "yummy" by my own admission.

I had half a glass of apple juice (one part apple juice, 1-2 parts water) sitting on the table and asked Daddy, "May I have more chocolate milk, please?" He obliged and, unable to see what Mommy had previously poured into my cup, started pouring in milk. I decided to help him and tipped the milk jug a little further so the cup filled quickly with one half milk.

Daddy sat back satisfied that the cup was full of milk and that he hadn't spilled. He told me to drink up before he would put any chocolate in. Before Mommy could stop me, I began to drink.

Mommy explained to Daddy his mistake. He took it in stride, noticing how happily I was lapping up our concoction. In fact, I drank about half of it and asked for more. We call it "juice milk." It's just milk with a hint of apple really. Quite refreshing. Daddy tried it too. I'm not sure how well he liked it, but he didn't grimace and seemed understanding.

I finished the cup during dinner and asked specifically for "juice milk" before bed. Daddy obliged and I reassured him it was "yummy."

Notable milestones

Except for the early years of the Restoration, there has been no nation in which a temple has been built within two decades after the Church was introduced.
Let's hear it for the Kyiv [that's Kiev to most of you] Ukraine Temple!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hyrum learns French

The other day, I put on my jean beret. First time since Hy was born, probably. Hyrum was delighted at the new hat, so I decided to whip out my self-taught/high school French and greeted him with my most nasally, singsong bonsoir.

Bonsoir! Hyrum shouted back grinning.

I thought I ought to try out "good day" before "good night" and said bon jour. He copied me again, but then went back to bonsoir. He really likes it. He owns the word now.

Yesterday I told him that bonsoir means good night. He said, "Bonsoir. Good night." He's more excited about French than he has been about any of the Spanish or German words we've tried to teach him.

So I guess Mommy will speak Spanish, Daddy German, and Hyrum French. It would be nice if he mastered English first, though.

Learning about yourself

Nothing like listening to your toddler to find out about yourself. Mommy recently blogged:
At some point Hyrum stated saying a wonderful phrase that eased his mother's heart. The phrase is "OH, YES"
Well, "oh, yes" has given way to "yep." yep yep yup yup... Mommy does not approve. She likes "yes" much more.

Then Daddy realized where it came from. Derrill, you want mayonnaise on your sandwich, right? Yep. ... uhoh. It's me!

Now self-conscious, I begin to hear yep all over the place. yep yep yep yep. ... Time to repent so Hyrum will have the role model Joy wants him to have.

The Lovely and Gracious comments: "Yep isn't so bad. It's just hard to hear. Yes is so understandable!"

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Why Shoe Shopping Takes so Long

My shoes are disintegrating. I've held out a month doing my 2.5 mile walk to and from campus while my feet get blistered all over again because the heel has almost fallen off, water seeps in, and now the plastic supports are ripping out the stitching and sticking out. But it's finally time for back-to-school sales and I announced to Joy that Saturday after the baptism was the perfect time to go to the Waterloo Outlets to buy 3 pairs for the price 1.

We were in that store for more than 2 hours. I was the one shopping, not Joy. Joy can find shoes in a magazine and be perfectly happy with them. She's amazing. I have flat feet that blister and ache in comfortable shoes. And I'm hard on shoes in return, so they need to be good shoes if they're going to last more than 2 months. I have killed shoes that quickly when I was walking less than I do these days.

I have a theory for why it takes so long to shop for shoes: I have to hurt before I can identify the shoes that hurt the least.

I get there in my nice, comfortable, loved, disintegrating shoes and start trying on these stiff, sturdy shoes that are going to have to take my torture for the next year. None of them feel comfortable. Some are merely "I'm not sure" uncomfortable. Some are actually painful to put on. Some I can't even put on even though they are "my size." My feet and shoe manufacturers just don't agree: My black organ shoes (which used to be my latin ballroom dancing shoes) are size 9 1/2 while my white temple shoes, which are only so much cardboard painted white, are size 13. I fit myself into 10.5 wides through 12s and sometimes even the 12s don't fit and I grab a 13. I feel bad for asking the salesclerk foolish enough to ask if he could help to go check to see if they have an 11wide in black... for the fifth time.

It's actually a fortunate thing that I hate shoelaces - always have - because it limits my selection or else I might be there even longer. Eventually, though, I run out of shoes to try on. I've found one that I know will work - the younger brother to my current beloved walking shoe - but I need formal shoes for church and job interviews too and those won't do for that. Or they won't in a couple months.

So I start trying on shoes a second time, and a third. Finally my feet hurt so much that the shoes that used to be merely "I'm not sure" ... feel comfortable. They aren't hurting any of the parts of my foot the other shoes maimed.

Then I pull out four boxes and line them up side by side: 10.5 wide, 11, 11 wide, and 11.5. Do they have a 12, I ask timidly? Let me check. Thankfully, no. I try each of them on and walk around some more. It's the 11 regular. But only the right foot feels right. The left foot is still just a little cramped. So I pull out the four boxes they have with black size 11 regular and try on just the left shoe from each of them, keeping the one right shoe I know already works. A little mix and match later, I finally have a second pair of shoes. Now to find one more....

Joy convinces me to just get a second pair of walking shoes and call it good. Please, honey? ...

And that's why it takes two hours. I've got to hurt before I can identify the shoes that hurt the least.

Ladies, am I right? Is this what it's like for you? Except some of you do this for fun?

PS - We met the poor salesclerk trying on blazers in the next store we went to looking for skirts for Joy. It felt awkward.
PPS - I know I got the right pair of walking shoes because it takes until I'm within 5 minutes of my office for my feet to start telling me there is a pair of matching blisters forming. I missed my bus on the way home and walked back as well and I only have one of the four blisters that threatened to show up. Not bad at all for a new pair!

This makes me cry

on so many levels. It begins
My four-year old ate a vegetable frittata the other day.
and after several pages of me reading my heart out ends
My husband and I met eyes across the table as she ate, but we didn't say a word about it. When she asked for seconds - seconds! - we served them quietly, and without ceremony.
But I'd be a liar if I didn't admit that later, in the kitchen, he and I quietly exchanged a high five.
"Who is that kid?" my husband whispered as our hands slapped.
"Shh," I said. "Let's not jinx it."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

My clever Dad: Fractured Proverbs

From my dad's Sunday School lesson -- he'll tell you the wrong proverb, you come up with the right form.

a. Debt goeth before destruction.
b. Train up a show dog in the way he should go.
c. To every thing there is a mass, and an atomic number to every atom under the heaven.
d. CAST thy socks upon the washer: for thou shalt find it after many days.
e. A good lawyer turneth away wrath.
f. For as blood pumpeth in his heart, so is he

Friday, August 13, 2010

LDS urban legends: Cain

From the FAIR:
The notion that Cain somehow lived on, survived the Flood, and roams the earth today, is based on a single claim of David W. Patten supposedly meeting “a very strange personage,” dark and hairy, who “was a wanderer in the earth and and traveled to and fro.” (Thus managing to tie Cain to another popular urban legend: Bigfoot.)
This account was published in a biography of Patten written by Lycurgus Wilson in 1900. Wilson had a letter from Abraham Smoot giving his recollection of what Patten said. In historical parlance this is what is called a late, third-hand account—the sort of thing most historians would dismiss. This kind of testimony is simply unreliable, tainted by the passage of time and the fog of memory.
The story probably would have been forgotten if then-Elder Spencer W. Kimball hadn’t included it on pages 127–28 of The Miracle of Forgiveness. Kimball’s book has become a staple of Mormon reading, the book that many bishops give to members struggling with sin and many mission presidents assign their missionaries to read.
The passage where Kimball quotes Wilson is ... almost as a passing idea, “an interesting story” about Cain.
And so, quite innocently, Spencer W. Kimball perpetuated a Mormon myth that could (and should) have died out long ago.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Hyrum Knows the Drill

I have this hereditary thing that, when I don't sleep enough, I hurt all over. I was in a lot of pain today while we were having dinner and closed my eyes for a minute.

Hyrum saw me and said, "Daddy sleep. Daddy wake up!"

I explained that, no, Daddy was awake. Daddy just hurt. I listed everything that hurt: My head and my eyes, my throat, my neck, my shoulders, my back, my arms, my elbows, my hands but not my fingres (have to admit what doesn't hurt), my stomach and my legs and my knees and my feet and my ankles and my toes.

Hyrum said, "Daddy needs medicine. Daddy go to bathroom. Get medicine. Be happy."

Hyrum knows the drill. Better than I do.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Hyrum gets a hat

Mine. And he's very proud of it.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Sleeping Trauma 2 - a Daddy post

I have a very different story about Hyrum's sleeping than Joy. She takes care of him during his days and I take care of him (mostly) from when I get home to breakfast time. So the sleeping I concentrate on is his night-time.

Joy mentions in the next post how the napping policy started affected his night time sleeping. Normally, this kid is the antiDerrill - falls asleep quickly, stays in the bed all night, not a problem in the world. Amazing kid. Nothing like me. But when we tried to get him a nap, he would stay up a few hours, mostly crying, before getting to sleep.

Then for a few days, he had a MISERABLE time. He would stay up until 10pm or so, finally get to sleep, and wake us up at 2am with these piercing screams of pain and torture. I'd go in and find him reading a book, crying "Sleep! Sleep!" So I told him to go back to sleep. And he did. And went to sleep! Until 3, when he called out again, "Sleep! Sleep!"

After a couple nights of this, I started to have a chat with my son. This was not working and I couldn't imagine what had happened to my son. Who are you and what have you done with him? As part of the conversation, I asked him why he couldn't sleep. He actually answered! I wasn't expecting this. You may have gathered, Hy is not much of a talker and we spend a lot of time every day prompting vocal responses and teaching him to respond when people talk to him.

"Books," was his answer.

That gave me some pause. "Do the books keep you awake, Hyrum?"


"... Would you like Daddy to take the books away so you can sleep?"


Wow. So I took away the books. We turned his toy shelf to face the wall so it wasn't a temptation. He slept like a Hyrum again! (Babies wish they slept like a Hyrum.) Nary a peep!

So now at night, while he's fast asleep and we're getting ready for the night, I open his door to let in the cool/warm air (depending on the season), but put up the baby gate that he respects, and put a stack of books and a couple toys on the washing machine next to his door where he can reach them. He gets up between 5:30 and 7 and plays with the books and toys very happily and quietly until he thinks it's time for us to come and get him.

Compare this to his nap time ritual with Joy: he says "Books books books books" to her, (but he's not crying, Joy adds) because he's excited to read his books during quiet time. He wants em and he wants to see them spread out on the floor for his perusal and pleasure. During quiet time and sometimes in the morning, by the way, he also enjoys looking through the crack between the door hinges to see when we're coming so he can call out to us that he's ready to come out. We're pretty sure the one day he put himself in the corner in nursery, he was trying to look through the door crack for us to come get him.

Then he started another conversation with me. "Dad, we need to talk," he did not say. What he said was "books" when I put him in the bed. "Yes, Hyrum, there are a lot of books in your room. I'm going to take them away." Just the kind of 'yeah yeah, whatever' parents often give their kids. But then one night I listened, and I thought, and I asked, "Hyrum, when you say books, do you mean you want Daddy to take the books away so you can sleep?" "Yes." "Okay, I will take the books away."

This week, Joy was very nice and set up some train tracks for him out of masking tape on his floor. "Tracks!" he told me happily when we went to his room. I asked him some questions and he filled in a few details about how he had played with them. It was clear that he loved his tracks and was very excited by them. We sang and said prayers. Once he hopped in bed, he cried and told me again about the "Tracks." I asked, on the third time or so, "Do you want me to take away the tracks so you can sleep?"


What a wise child I have! He may not say much, but he understands and he knows himself. I sure love him! I would probably be a better person if I were more like him.

Stawberry Picking - a Joy post

[DW says: you all are so lucky to get 5 posts from the Mommy tonight. Let's hear it for Joy!]

I am so glad that Hyrum and I finally got to go strawberry picking. When Vicky left she lamented about not ever having gone strawberry picking before. Up to that point I had never thought there was a lack of it in my life. Now granted, I am not planning on going again, necessarily, but I am way happy that we went this time. A friend Katie and her son Richard O. were going to a place that had pretty good prices and wasn't an hour away. She was looking for someone to go with here, so Hyrum and I volunteered.

Hyrum has still not forgotten the experience and still with mention it when ever he sees a strawberry. He and Richard started by being helpful and picking strawberrys and putting them in the buckets, but time wore on and they got into running down the isles together or after each other, sometimes they even would hold hands. But the end was worse than the beginning, because when my back was turned not only was Hyrum throwing out individual berry's from the picked bucket, he also upturned the whole thing on the ground. Which I mostly enjoyed the sport of the most. They were both ready to go when we left, but it was a great experience and I was glad I had remembered to bring lunch for Hyrum since it took a few hours. Hyrum has tried strawberrys in their natural form and I blame much of it on that experience. I felt like a good mom that day :)

Oh Yes - a Joy post

At some point Hyrum stated saying a wonderful phrase that eased his mother's heart. The phrase is "OH, YES". He says it with much feeling and determination as a regular response to anything he agrees too, or at least he did. As any parent of a two year old feels that if they ever get over saying No all the time it would be wonderful and just figuring out that there is a yes is awsome.

Lately his favorite response to most questions is "OKAY" that is supposed to mean a lot of things, like Yes, lets do it now,  what are we waiting for or of course.

ABC now and always - a Joy post

I think I may have mentioned this one too [with video!], but I am trying to do some catch up.

Hyrum really loves his ABCs and Numbers infact, I tend to call them his best friends. He even knows the ABCs and can sing the song by himself.  But it is still more amazing to us how fast he can sing them. He now can even sing them fast enough to sing them along with his Alpha Bug and he sometimes says the letters faster than the bug does. He used to skip letters when he sings fast, but now he doesn't. [Derrill thinks he does lose the letter O occasionally as he races through LMNP.] Well, a true race I think he does, but when he sings along with the Alphabug, I don't think he does.

Hyrum writes - Joy post

I feel like I have already blogged about this, but hear goes.

Hyrum loves to draw. His first letter that he learned how to draw was H. He started drawing Hs the day that we studied the letter H in the letter a week club. It was his day, since his name starts with an H. I made some Hot dogs wrapped in bread for the snack. We went to the club and we practiced writing, Hand painted a letter H and at no time did I see any chance he would be drawing an H. Nothing similar, but he LOVED hand painting. We have done it once since then (Thank you Shari for the paint-he painted for at least a half hour straight).

When we got home that day, sometime later he was drawing on his aqua doodle and told me "H", "H" I went over to see what was on his doodle and indeed there was an H. He drew several of them and counted them too. I was so amazed that he was able to do it. He had no direct model, nothing written in front of him for an example. Just the memory of earlier that day or before and he drew and H. He has drawn Hs ever since. Now he draws a W at times. He's drawn a D a couple of times and said it was a D. He drew Ms on accident - he really wanted to draw a W. I'm waiting for him to try to draw a Z. It's one of his favorite letters.

On day (the one I alluded to above) Hyrum and I were finger painting at  home. We were talking about the letter Y. I have some letter sponges, so after he had pushed the paint around for a while, yellow, blue, green, and purple which formed something like a dark green on green paper, I gave him a sponge Y to sponge up his paint and make Ys on other papers. So the surprise that came with this activity was as he was dutifullly making as many Ys as he felt like he could and then asking for new paper, he put two Ys next to each other and said, "W". I looked at what he had on his paper and YY did look just like a W. What an amazing kid.

Sleeping Trama - Joy post

Letting go of naps for my son has been very difficult for me, even if it hasn't been difficult for Hyrum. I think that he was trying to let go of the last nap before we even got him his big boy bed [right], but the freedom that came with the big boy bed was a little more than I could handle perminently at first. I was desparate to hold on to that last nap feeling like when he napped I was a really good mother (for my peace of mind, but I felt for his health too). Well, after a few days or a week, I decided to have him sleep in the play pen for his nap, but I started in our bed room. That was commical, because after a couple of days he learned to tip the bed so that he could crawl out.

Then I tried putting him in the play pen in the bathroom. He would rock it something awful and still not go to sleep some days. Then I finally just had him stay in the play pen in his room (I don't know why I didn't try that in the first place. With this method he was getting more naps, but he stopped going right to sleep at night. Finally I acknowledged that I had done all that I could (durring those time I would also spend over a half hour singing to him and holding him in my arms or making him lay on the bed-it was really tramatic for me as well as a little for him-sometimes it was just a game for him).  He was showing by not going to sleep at night that he was really not needing those naps that I was just positive that he needed.  So, after trying some disapline techniques at night, we finally just gave up on the nap and started calling it quiet time and let him deal with wether he slept at night. We just let go of the control and it was peaceful for us too. He took a little time to readjust his schedule in the evenings, but without unneeded naps he finally got regularly to sleep at the normal times again. We just started putting him to bed a little earlier for night on days he didn't get a nap.

He does take a nap durring quiet time now, but it is his choice and we all seem to be happier about it now that I have let go of feeling trama about it. The letting go times have begun. Let the good times roll.