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!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

LDS in Europe

Pres. Monson's involvement with my former missionary stomping grounds is fairly well known. I did not know about Elder Nelson's responsibilities:
Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve currently has "first contact responsibility" for the First Presidency over Europe — an assignment he first received a quarter century ago when open borders, recognition of religions and allowance of missionary work were unthinkable.
He recalled the first meeting of the First Presidency and the Twelve after President Benson succeeded President Kimball after the latter's passing in November 1985. At the meeting, the twelve apostles were given their new worldwide supervisory assignments.
"They started at the senior end of the circle and got around to the junior end where I was and said 'Brother Nelson, your assignment is to be in charge of the church in Europe and Africa, with a specific assignment to open all the countries that are now under the yoke of communism,' " he said.
"I'll never forget that day."
I bet he won't! You want me to move which mountain where?
Upon receiving the assignment, Elder Nelson made two lists of European countries — one of nations where the church was then established, and one where it wasn't. "There were more countries where it was not established than where it had been established, even though we as a church had been in Europe for 150 years," he said.
... "Brother Oaks and I told President Benson before he died (on May 30, 1994) that the assignment given me in 1985 was now completed, with the church established in every country in Europe."
As Pres. Monson said in 08, let's go move some more mountains!
There remain, however, areas of the world where our influence is limited and where we are not allowed to share the gospel freely. As did President Spencer W. Kimball over 32 years ago, I urge you to pray for the opening of those areas, that we might share with them the joy of the gospel. As we prayed then in response to President Kimball’s pleadings, we saw miracles unfold as country after country, formerly closed to the Church, was opened. Such will transpire again as we pray with faith.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Hyrum Flies a Kite

Here he is singing Let's Go Fly a Kite in his own, homemade kite.