Monday, January 31, 2011

Who is this boy?

When he came home from school, he announced to me that he is Handy Smurf. Mommy is Papa Smurf. After deliberation, I was dubbed Brainy.

When he woke up, he was Mario.

When he went to bed, he was his own grandfather ("I'm Pop"), while we were Matt and Mandy.

Over the weekend, he was his teacher and Mommy was one of her assistants.

Except when he decided it would be more interesting to be Captain Von Trapp to Mommy's Maria.

Sunday I taught him that if his name started with a C, he would be Chyrum. He thought that was funny. So then I added that if his name started with a T, he would be Thyrum. That wasn't as funny. For a few minutes, he was content to be just Hyrum.

The hard part is he keeps asking us literally every other sentence what our names are and he isn't even satisfied when we give him the right answer. Couple that with the three-year-old's tendancy to say No a lot. This got old last night, so I started being just as impossible:

Disney Commentary: A British Bank

One of the joys of having a little one is getting to know your Disney movies even better than you ever thought you knew them ... because now you can commit literary analysis on them or try to force your way in with logic. This is less magical, but restores sanity.

In Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks sings a short song/talk as is his wont expressing his dissatisfaction with Poppins' outings. Titled "A British Bank" it is one of Hyrum's favorites from the movie. In the midst of Banks' comparison of a household to a bank, Poppins sidetracks him into believing what he wants is for the children to accompany him to work the following day. It's a very clever piece. Poppins' lines are particularly clever, comparing bankers to "a thousand ciphers neatly in a row." Delicious.

Banks' chief complaint however is unusual. He recites the outings the children have gone on to this point, which I can do from memory by this point:

"In short I am disturbed to hear my children talk about having tea parties on the ceiling. I ask you -- having tea parties on the ceiling! Consorting with race horse persons and questionable outings of every other kind.
If they must go on outings, these outings ought to be
Fraught with purpose, yes!, and practicality.
These silly words like ...    [Supercalafragilisticexpialadocious?]
*aside* Yes, well done. You said it.
*sung* And popping through pictures
Have little use! Fulfill no basic need! ..."

Think about that complaint. He is not worried that they are living in a fantasy world and out of touch with reality. He is not worried that they are lying to him. He is not worried that they are on drugs. He is worried that having tea parties on the ceiling is not useful.

That the Banks character is one with his priorities messed up to the n-th degree few will question, but it strikes me that he is surrendering a great deal of rationality and logic. He accepts that these things actually happened. Compare this to the Poppins character in the original books who practically yells at the children when they remind her of the things they saw and did. 'No, that most certainly never happened,' she avers. 'How dare you speak such nonsense!'

On the other hand, this really says that there is some hope for this Banks fellow. If he can accept tea parties on the ceiling and riding merry-go-round horses on a race track as possible if not useful, he may yet come round.... round the bend into insanity, that is. Whither he goes.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Thoughts from "Understanding the Book of Mormon"

I reviewed Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon last week and today wanted to write up some of my notes from it. You may recall I argued that the book is less about understanding the Book of Mormon and more about a literary analysis of the narrators of the Book. So let's open with a quotation he pulls out about what literary analysis is:
"[Literary interpretation] is not a matter of discovering truths about a world so much as assigning thematic significance to component parts of a work. It is a search for coherence and sense. It involves making connections by subsuming more and more elements in a work under a network of thematic elements.
To someone like Joy, the admission that he is reading scripture without trying for Truth but mere thematic significance is "pointless." But let us allow him to make his case that studying the narrators is interesting at least. He makes an interesting point starting out about one of the key differences between the Bible and the Book of Mormon in terms of tone and narration, which is why he wants to interest us in the narrators:
The narrators in the Hebrew Bible are anonymous, omniscient, reticent, and unobtrusive. They speak from no particular time or place, reporting words, actions, and secret thoughts (even, at times, what God is thinking). They rarely comment on the story, offer judgments, mention themselves, refer to their own editing, or address their audience directly. We are seldom told how we should react to specific incidents, and as a result, biblical narratives are generally open to multiple readings and interpretations. This is part of the literary appeal. ... [In the Book of Mormon] the first round of interpretation has been done for us... . In summary, we might say that while the Bible appears to be divine in its authorship and human in its textual transmission, the Book of Mormon seems to be just the opposite -- it claims to have been written by specific, historical individuals but was transmitted to modern readers through divine intervention.
Unlike in the Bible, the narrators in the Book of Mormon are known characters with purposes, agendas, and limitations. I'll put some of his thoughts about those narrators below the fold if you want to keep reading:

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What Disney would be doing today

The sequel to "Donald Duck in Mathamagicland"

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Happy Mommy Post

Sometimes Hyrum's just too much cuteness. I been kinda sick this week and trying to stay down. Friday morning we had decided that I was going to stay down all morning so Derrill was going to take care of Hyrum and get him off to school then come back and take care of himself. I would take care of Hyrum the rest of the day - Friday's he has a short school day.

Hyrum pretending to sleep on our bed over Christmas
It had snowed quite a bit that night and Hyrum had come to say hi to me. Derrill went outside to take care of the car and shovel snow. Then Hyrum climbed up on the couch with me - I was laying down. He said, "I want to sleep with you, Mommy."

He was supposed to be putting on his pajamas...
And he got under the covers and he closed his little eyes and snuggled up by me and didn't even try to make me wake up. And he'd open his eyes and smile and snuggle in and say "Sleep with Mommy." It was so adorable! We just sat there like that for a good 15 minutes, just both content. It was happy.

Then when he came home from school the first thing he wanted to talk to me about was how he remembered sleeping with Mommy "last night" and wanted to sleep with Mommy again. It was really sweet.  He didn't want to talk about school, he just wanted to talk about spending time with me.

Hyrum is not a cuddler by nature, so those cuddling times are about as sweet as you get.

Interview with a toddler: The Cheese Game

Following is an experiment at letting Hyrum blog. Hyrum chose some pictures, captioned them, and then we had the following conversation. Continue at peril of your logic. FYI - our camera is currently busted, so no new pictures for a while. :(

What do you want to talk about, Hyrum?

"I want to calm down so I won't get this. ... You're typing! Ooh, wow."

I'm typing what you are saying, Hyrum.

J: We could talk about school or we could talk about a game or a toy.

I like to play in the balls. I want to get off your lap.

What game?

"I like to do 2."

J: Two games?

"Cause you can shake one and then do one. Mouse game and then cheese game. Cause it's 2, then 3. A 3. 3. 3 read a book and then you're all done."

J: How do you play the cheese and mouse game, Hyrum?

"avadbrvjk;asedbnvjk;awbgevfhawek;bv;akjdvh089we4jkl;vbashidgv7890awhe;kvjb asdlvhgaw8o07eg;kvabjs dvjhbaedygvpuiawbegvhkaw bevyigawpduibv;akwjefv"

I missed all of that. Can you say that again, Hyrum, slower?

"Um, says you can play a game, so I said 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8."

I want to leave the pictures and then come back right here. See?
J: Am I a cheese or a mouse?

"You're king. ... You're a cheese. You're a king right now, Mommy. You're cheese."

J: So you're a mouse. Are you looking for cheese? ... How do you win the game?

"By getting all the cheese."

J: Where do you find the cheese?

"In the black thing. Cause it was 5 look. Looky look. You put out and then come out and you eat your cheese. It goes to the cheese game. Go. Go!

J: I don't know how to play it, but he's talked to me about it before. One of his teachers says he does really well at it. I had talked to somebody at the classroom, and she thought they play Farmer in the Dell, but it sounded more organized to me....

In the car, he's tried explaining to other people also, but we still can't figure it out.  ... I think we'll have to try this again sometime when there's something he wants to talk about, like Mario, or in the morning instead of before dinner.... But it does give you a clear idea of one of the ways it's like having a conversation with Hyrum.

J: I have to applaud your typing. That was fast.

Who are You Today?

Hi there. Hy here.

This month I've been discovering the wonderful world of Make Believe. In Make Believe Land I can be anyone I want, and Mommy and Daddy will always play along with me. It's enormously fun. Daddy's mentioned some of the fun I've had being Pinnochio, Mario, and Bob the Builder.

This week I took it to a whole new level: I've been someone else every day!

Tuesday I was Gerald the Elephant. I went to bed climbing into my elephant skin. This one is my favorite and Daddy likes this one. Mommy is Piggie.
Wednesday night I announced I was Johnny Appleseed and climbed into my tree.
Thursday night I told Mom I was Bartholomew Cubbins as she let me climb into my castle. She is the king. I have a hard time remembering Bartholomew's name, so I ask Mom and Dad "What's the word?" and they know I mean Bartholomew. It took them a while to pick up on my hint.
Friday night I was Bob the Builder again. (Bob climbs into Rolly.)
Saturday night and right now I'm Pinnochio again. (Pinnochio is swallowed by Monstro, but Daddy promises to come back in the morning and help me light a fire so the whale will sneeze me out again.)

The links are just so you know what I'm talking about if you need a hint. I don't get sales commissions or anything. Not that I think I've ever committed a sale. Are there sales of omission?

Book Review: Understanding the Book of Mormon

For Christmas I got Grant Hardy's Understanding the Book of Mormon: A Reader's Guide. It came recommended by Bushman, a name I respect even if I haven't read his work yet, and looked like a different kind of scriptural study than I had done before. Hardy was the chief editor of the Reader's Edition of the Book of Mormon published a few years ago, so he is intimately familiar with it and its structure in ways few others are.

I like it overall and there are several parts of it that I'm going to take particular note of and jot in my own scriptures; but it also has some pretty large flaws (to my way of thinking) that prevent me from universally recommending it. In this post I'm going to talk about the book itself and in another I'll stick to specific things he talks about that I want to comment on or remember.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Hyrum moving on part 4: The Compromise

The next two morning weren't any better. In fact, they got a bit worse. Tuesday he got worried about school while we were in the car. Wednesday he started crying before we got out the door.

This was not going well. He was still happy enough at school and cried when Mommy tried to bring him home again, but we could see the pattern developing.

So Wednesday morning as he began to have a fit, I stood apart and prayed to know what we could do for him. For a moment I saw my son more clearly. He wants to be happy. He needs to be happy. He needs everyone to be happy. I need to give him an excuse to be happy. Make him a deal. He wants you to help him be happy.

I stepped back into his view and asked Hyrum an important question. "Would you like Mario to come with you to school?"

He stopped crying. I had his full attention. Mommy had been quite firm that toys were not going with him to school. I wasn't sure at that moment how much I'd need to bargain with both of them or if I could pull something off with her approval, but I felt like I was on the right track.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hyrum moving on part 3: First day of school

Joy and I accompanied little Hyrum to his first day of school January 3. He was excited to go to school.

We drove there listening to his favorite music. He was excited to go to school.

We parked at the school. He was excited.

We got out and put his backpack with his breakfast and lunch in it on him for the first time. He nearly fell over. It was a struggle for him to walk up to the school building even with our support. The backpack eventually fell off his back and I hooked it onto his arm which I held up for him.

He was not in a good mood when we got to his classroom at the end of the hall. It suddenly became very real that we were about to leave him in this strange environment and he did NOT want us to go!

For the firstest time in his live long life, Hyrum felt separation anxiety. We were delighted?? No, not really, but that was our silver lining. After 34 months, he's finally decided it's important that we stick around.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Coming Home From Denver

Sunday after my job market conference in Denver I took a very delayed flight to Detroit, raced to the next plane to Ithaca which I miraculously caught, and was soon waiting at the airport at midnight for Joy and Hy to come pick me up. It was a good conference. I was looking forward to being home.

Joy had reported that Hy was having a difficult time during the days I was gone - crabby, less patient, just a bit wild, "tantrumy all over the place." She figured he was missing me. She woke him up, got him in the car, saque and all, and drove to the airport.

When Hyrum saw me, it was a lot of fun to watch his face. His bleary eyes searched the area and lighted on me. They widened in shock and his mouth started twitching as it broke out into a brilliant, wide-mouthed smile. The happiness and excitement radiant beamed from his eager face. Oh what a happy boy!

I opened the car door to give him a hug. "Hi, Luigi!" he said.  [This is what I was talking about in my other post.]

Ah, my boy. It's good to be home.

A Disturbance in the Force

For weeks Joy and I have been Luigi and Peach. We don't even get called Daddy and Mommy anymore, just Luigi and Peach. Even in the middle of the night, he calls me Luigi.

Then Wednesday he discovered the Bob the Builder video he got for Christmas.

Suddenly I'm Scoop and Joy is Wendy. The great advantage of this is that Scoop can speak with my voice - Luigi is an accent and if I don't speak with a bad Italian accent (even to Joy!) he gets upset. Scoop is much easier. It also means  he wants me to carry him a lot more places, since Bob rides his machines. "Bob" wears his hard hat most places and is distressed when it falls off.

Not that Mario has disappeared. Mario still is a necessary part of taking Hy to and from school, the must-have friend (with the giant Mickey) in his bed at night. But, still and all...

Bob is back.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dragon Quest IX: Initial Party Composition

Most of the walkthrough guides I've found suggest that your party in Dragon Quest 9 [Nintendo DS] is whatever you feel like. This gives the impression that all starting vocations/classes are balanced.

They're not.

Since you can change your vocation at will relatively early in the game, a poor choice at the beginning probably won't do you much harm ... but it's no help either. There are two jobs that I would recommend you avoid for your first companions: mage and thief. Reasons for that below the fold:

Monday, January 10, 2011

A little something for Hyrum: Mario Theme Accordinated, Tromboned, and much more


Trombone Quartet

Big Band, sung, and mascotted


A little something for Hyrum: Mario Theme Orchestrated and A Capella

Love, your Luigi

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Miracle in Sierra Leone

I was most fascinated to read the following account today about some of the first Latter-day Saints (Mormons) in Sierra Leone. The first converts in Freetown were baptized in 1988. By 1990 there were a number of LDS congregations with chapels, including several in Bo, second largest city in Sierra Leone. But then in January 1991, Ezra Taft Benson - then president of the church - sent a letter to the local leadership, Brother Touray,
in which he asked the Saints in Bo to abandon their meetinghouses and to gather again in their homes to worship. The young leaders were very discouraged, feeling that the buildings were such an important milestone for the Church in this part of Sierra Leone.
Uniformly, members were disappointed and unhappy about the request. Some members of the infant congregations were offended that the prophet in Utah would give such unwelcome advice. Others were heard to question whether or not the prophet understood their circumstances, and, lacking faith in the Lord's servants, they left the Church. Others felt the stirring of testimony and confirmation of the Spirit, and while they didn't understand why President Benson would ask such a thing, they knew him to be a prophet. They had also come to trust their mission president who they loved. President Touray spoke recently of those days with grateful appreciation. He was sad and discouraged, but "recognized that we had been given a formal commandment, and I had to obey. I realized it would be very important for us to obey although I did not know why at the time." The chapel doors were closed.
In March 1991, civil war erupted in Sierra Leone and this little nation became engulfed in a fiery battle that lasted more than a decade. Communities collapsed, infrastructures deteriorated, banks were shuttered, food was in scarce supply and repeated military coups left uncertainty as to who was a friend or foe. Churches were frequently targeted by the rebels with bullets and firebombs, and thousands of people lost their lives while sitting on pews hoping to pray and worship.
But the members of the Lord's Church were safe from this harm for they were home worshiping in obedience to a prophet's counsel.
President Touray spoke of the miracle that had come to the people because of their obedience. "No member of the Church died in Bo during the war — not one. The LDS Church was the only church that continued operating during the war in Bo — the only one. Every other church closed its doors. It was too dangerous for the people to walk to church and too dangerous to sit and worship. None of us (the Latter-day Saints) had any problem during the war. We worshipped through the whole war no matter how grave the situation was. Because we were obedient, our members received this great blessing."

Hyrum Moving On part 2: The Adventure Ahead

Tomorrow is a big day for our little guy.
"Therefore it's a big day for us," says Joy. [As always, Joy is in quote marks since Derrill does the typing.]

Tomorrow we all start school. Caroline Elementary preschool.
"And we are a little nervous."

Hyrum Moving On part 1: Thank You and Farewell

Last week, Hyrum said, "What is repent?" and "What is the Holy Ghost?" Today he asked "What are you doing?"

Thank you.

Tonight, Hyrum took turns playing Tic-Tac-Toe with Mommy. 
Mommy asked, "Will you be x's or o's?" 
He said, "I will win with o's."
The Buzz coloring book and paints were an enormous hit.
Thank you.

Last week, Hyrum managed to keep the same pair of underwear unsoiled the entire day, and for the first time complained when his diaper was not clean. Tonight he jumped over and across the scriptures. He now regularly asks us to "Give me choices" for what he can eat.

Thank you.

Thank you all for loving our little boy, for pushing him, for spending so much time with him and us, and for the great blessing you have been in his life and ours. Thank you for your insights and examples. We will miss you.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Merry Christmas, Hyrum (1)


Mario collects coins, and now I know why: chocolate!

 Excalibur! I mean, Pinocchio! It's mine! All mine!

Reading Mother Goose with the grandparents.

This was the sight that greeted Hyrum/Mario/Buzz/Pinocchio/rubber ducky when he walked into the living room Christmas morning and his reaction.