Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Number Associations

On Sunday, a conversation happened without provocation:
"Daddy, you are number 2. Pop and Boo are number 7."
Who are you, Hyrum?
"I am number 1."
Who is Mommy?
"Mommy is number 3."
Who is number 4?
Who is number 5?
"Brother F____."
Who is number 6?
"..... Pop is number 6 and Boo is number 7!"
I see.

I asked him later in the day who each of the numbers were. He moved Bro. F___ up to #5 and his daughter (Althea) to #4. We give them rides to church on Sunday and he was thinking about them when he made the first numbering system. He held to the numbers on Tuesday.

The fun part is when I ask him:
Who is number 8?
"I don't remember!" *face palm*

Another day this week he and Joy got out his number puzzle. He pulled out the numbers one by one and said
"#1 How we got the Book of Mormon.
#2 Lehi warns the people.
#3 Lehi Leaves Jerusalem...."

And so on through as many chapters of his Book of Mormon stories book as he could remember. Every day for Jesus Time we've been reading from one of his scripture stories book, and lately Joy added to that letting him play on the computer (!!!!) with a Book of Mormon stories CD that will read the stories to him and let him click on words. He particularly likes #14 Abinadi and King Noah and #20 Alma and Nehor.

Today when the father of King Lamoni "got angrier and drew his sword to kill Lamoni" Hyrum recognized the word pattern and said it was just like Nehor who "got angry and drew his sword.and killed Gideon." Wow. His favorite Nehor picture is attached. He makes a point of telling us which pictures and which pages in books are his favorite.

Joy wonders what it will be like when we introduce him to The Prisoner! ROFL.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Favorite Books

The last couple months Hy has been rediscovering books. Mostly it's Dr. Seuss, and mostly it's Bartholomew Cubbins. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins is a smash hit that he wanted us to read again and AGAIN. We asked him to please choose another book in between the 500 hats. It's been a lot of fun, mostly.

Yesterday I helped him discover a new favorite book. The Lesson by Carol Lynn Pearson. "He seemed to understand a lot of it too," Joy says. "He's talked to me about it several times today -- having problems and ... I didn't understand what he wanted to do about them, but he understood." In the fable, a boy named Robert goes to school and discovers math problems. The math problems are hard, but he is happy whenever he solves them. I suspect that the numbers in the beginning of the book are a large part of its draw. Then one day his teacher announces they will do story problems.

The first story problem is: If you have 3 cars and 1 truck and Joey comes and takes 2 cars and the truck, how many times should you hit Joey?

"And he identifies with that." He puzzles it out with Robert, and is pleased when Robert discovers the answer is no times. As the book goes on, Robert's problems become more and more difficult. Hyrum's interest in the book varies depending on my reactions to it. Whenever I start choking up or tearing because of one the problems, he gets very interested in the book. When I manage to go several pages without difficulty, he starts talking about something else.
... he heard his teacher say, "Robert, if your family moved to a small house in a big city and you had to leave behind two aquariums and one dog and your best friend..."
"Oh no!" interrupted Robert. "I don't want that problem. Give me a different problem!"
"But I can't," said the teacher. "This is your problem and you must solve it."...
At the end of each lesson, it reads, "and he moved up a grade." By the end of the book, I am feeling ever so much less like that is an accomplishment and more and more dread at the inexorable climb.

It's a wonderful, moving book that Joy introduced to our home. Hyrum asked for it again tonight, in addition to talking to Joy about it several times. We can highly recommend it.

So this is Hyrum's latest literary addiction.

A Matter of Priorities

Occasionally Hyrum does not want to follow the program. When he decides he'd rather play than pray or do something else religious, we figure it's important enough to talk to him about it. We try to help him see that "Jesus is more important than _______" Buzz, Woody, or blocks. And we'll quiz him on what is more important until he can give the right answers. By that point, he's usually willing to come around and willingly participate.

Yesterday, he was playing with his alphabet blocks, arranging them to form the alphabet like he'd seen in a book. Joy promised him that he could play with them again after quiet time. The normal schedule (an important thing for little Hy) goes: wake up, potty, snack, play. He looks forward to his snack very much because he gets chocolate cake. "And it reminds him of Backyardigans these days," Joy adds.

So yesterday Joy got him up from his nap and said it was time for snack. No no, he was quite insistent. It was time to play with alphabet blocks! "I told him, if you choose to play with the alphabet blocks, we won't be having snack because this is the time for snack. You can play with the blocks after snack if you want."

He responded, "Mommy, alphabet blocks are more important than snack!"

"What could I say?" Let the boy play with the blocks.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Hyrum Remembers: Aquarium

Hyrum's Aunt Emilee volunteers at the Mystic Aquarium in CT. We got to visit it when we visited them this week. As we were leaving, it seemed the only thing that had impressed our little one was the penny funnel (e.g. picture right, or video), but then again that was the last thing he had seen and the only thing that made him laugh heartily.

Today I asked him what he liked about the aquarium, now that we're a few days away. He remembers ... "Nemo Fish!" As I listed off other critters he saw, he responded most positively to the "Jellyfish" exhibit and the "starfish" that he got to touch. He also remembered pushing a lot of "buttons" and thought that was fun.

Here are more pictures of the aquarium than you can shake a fishstick at. I was impressed to discover "skunk clownfish" and the moon jellyfish that they took out on the space program. I touched a shark!


I bought the bulbs 2.5 years ago. I planted them 1.5 years ago. They finally blossom to bid us farewell. Or one of them does anyway.

Conversations with a Toddler

"Mommy, feed me breakfast."
Hyrum, will you feed me breakfast?
"Mommy, feed ME breakfast."
Yes. I will feed you breakfast. Then will you feed me breakfast?
"No. You can make breakfast for yourself."
O-ho-ho! And when will you be able to make breakfast for yourself?
"... When I'm five. But I'm three."


Today Hyrum spelled out "Toy Story Mania," "Buzz," "Woody," and "Rex" phonetically before running out of O's to do "Slinky Dog"


Hy and Mommy played "The Book of Mormon Challenge" today, Hyrum winning handily both times. Even though he had won, he insisted Mommy also finish the game and make it to Heaven.

When Mommy landed on the square that says "You forgot to pray," she told Hyrum that they really had forgotten to pray. They set the board aside and prayed. Then Hyrum told Mommy she didn't have to lose a turn because now she had prayed.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Things Hyrum Remembers: Disney World

Hyrum's intention going into Disney World was to find characters. He wanted to see, in this order: Mickey, Buzz, WALL-E, and Pop and Boo (Grandpa and Grandma). WALL-E apparently lives at Tokyo. Between character breakfasts each day and finding Buzz and Woody together the first day, his character needs were met. He was excited to see anyone else along the way, but felt no need to visit any of them, unlike last trip. Joy interjects, "Except for Mary Poppins, who we saw and couldn't meet, but he wanted to. Hyrum really wanted to stop but we had to go on to a lunch reservation." He hadn't paid her much attention last time at Disneyland.

His regular refrain was "Let's go on more rides" - particularly after anything we went to that didn't impress as much... and after we got off the plane at home... and today again at the CT Mystic Aquarium.

His first ride was his clear favorite: Toy Story Midway Mania. He went on it 3 times and asked for it several more times in later days at the other parks. The other ride he asked for several times was Spaceship Earth (the Epcot ball). When he saw it, he stopped in his tracks, pointed, and said, "Daddy! It's Epcot!" He took a nap in it the first time we went through.

He also got used to eating at restaurants. "I want to go to restaurant and eat." Not that he ate anything they offered - he only barely sipped the milk - but he quickly learned that was where he got fed. (Actually, today he asked to go to a restaurant too.*) As we were waiting Friday evening for our last restaurant, he announced "I want to go to the dark restaurant with the cartoons." The Sci-Fi Diner that shows old scary B-movie trailers and a few outer space cartoons was memorable enough to make him want to go back. It was Joy's favorite restaurant when she was there last time, but she sees it with new eyes having brought a toddler there. "I still like it for me," she says, "I really like the atmosphere. Then I realized it really focuses on horror films...."

Hyrum is now big enough to go on water rides and we took him on the Animal Kingdom raft ride. We told him he was going to get wet. We gave him a special rain slicker. He still got wetter than anyone, which made his lower lip quiver. I asked at the end if the ride was fun. "Yes." Do you want to ride it again? "No." He reminded us of the ride today, talking about the kids in another raft who were screaming and that he didn't want to go on it again.

He randomly talked to us today about a hedge maze that Grandma Boo and Mommy showed him in Epcot.

He remembers watching the 30 minute musical play version of Finding Nemo. Joy sang a parody version of one of the songs and Hyrum sang the real words in response.

He hasn't talked about these yet, but we know he particularly enjoyed the Country Bear Jamboree (he clapped along regularly and in pretty good rhythm), the Tea Cups (asked for them by name before we got to the park and loved how dizzy I made him - boy, that was a blissful boy in the cup with me!), the line for Winnie the Pooh, and the trains around Germany. He did not enjoy Prince Caspian (dark and scary) or the Hall of Presidents (nap time!).

Hyrum demonstrated the ability to tell the difference between Disneyland and Disney World on t-shirts. "Pop, your shirt says Disneyland, not Disney World!"

* - Joy tells me that even before Disney, he asked to go to a restaurant. We go to one so rarely I'm not sure how that happened. It's probably because we went to one in March when Pop was in town for a night and took us to Applebee's. Joy told him that we couldn't because Pop wasn't there. He said, "No. Go to restaurant without Pop." Joy couldn't figure out where he was coming from either.

This kid is too cute

Steve and Emilee just gave Hyrum a belated birthday present. She told him to close his eyes and hold out his hands. When he opened his eyes, he saw a coloring/sticker book he was very excited about. Emie then told Joy to close her eyes and hold out her hands too. Emie had made a lovely baby quilt for Lavinia.

Then Hyrum told me to close my eyes and hold out my hands. Obedient, I heard him say, "Now, Emilee, you should give Daddy something."

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Disney Magic

We got a surprise invitation last month to join my parents at DisneyWorld for a few days. AWESOME! We flew out Tuesday, spent Wed-Fri at the parks, and returned yesterday. Hyrum's first visit was a wonderful time, and well in keeping with the traditions of the Magic Grandma.

Grandma Boo got a lot of quality time with him, riding in her scooter around the parks. She would pause regularly along the way to point out something interesting to him and explain it all, from topiaries to Liberty Bell replicas to carvings and flowers. When a bit of puffy flower-seed floated by on the wind, she caught it and showed Hyrum the "Disney Magic" that had brought such a wondrous thing to them. To Grandma at Disney, the world is full of Disney Magic. It made the trip all the more enchanting for Hyrum.

Then I started getting into the act:

Friday night at dinner, Hyrum was playing with his crayons while we finished our meal. I asked Hyrum to count his crayons. There were 9. I asked him to count them again, just to be sure. While he was distracted, I added a crayon. He returned his attention to his crayons and discovered the new one. He pointed out to everyone that it looked different from the other crayons! Grandma told him it was Disney Magic. Disney Magic produced three more crayons over the next while as he counted and recounted and never came up with the same number twice. Those four crayons became "the magic crayons." He asked to color with the magic crayons on the flight home and was disappointed today at church that the crayons I offered to let him color on his church program weren't magical.

Friday night as we got ready to sleep at Disney for the last time, Hyrum mourned that there would be "no more Disney magic." Oh, Hyrum, you'll take a little Disney magic with you. You are full of Disney magic.

We've reaped at least two interesting bits of Disney magic already. Up until the trip, Hy has complained most bitterly about needing to "practice potty." He dislikes it more and more, making it less and less fruitful. He hasn't earned a potty sticker or prize in a long time. During one pit stop when he was putting up yet another fight, I got fed up and called him a baby. Big boys say "I need to pee" and go to the bathroom by themselves. Babies just pee and need their diapers changed all the time. I said something to the effect of "And we'll have to keep on doing this until you can learn to say 'I need to pee.'" Something about it clicked. He doesn't want to be a baby. He wants to be a big boy. All of a sudden, from one pit stop to the next, he is happy to go to the bathroom. "Yes, I need to pee!" he announces whenever we ask, even if he doesn't actually pee. Then after he pees, he tells us he's a big boy, NOT a baby. It's such a blessing. The hard part is that from the way he asks Mommy why she chooses to pee, it sounds like he thought I meant once he can say "I need to pee" he won't need to anymore.... Joy says, "For some reason, it seems like he wants it to be something he can choose. 'I don't want to poo.' I keep trying to explain it, but we haven't made any headway yet."

We're also still trying to teach Hyrum to walk. He never learned, really. He learned how to run. Running and walking are different skills, you see. The first day at Disney he ran around like his usual rambunctious self. The second day he kept up with us pretty well. I noticed on Friday that he was a) actually willing to hold my hand and b) walking a little bit behind me so that I was carrying him forward noticeably. When I slowed down, he slowed down to match. I asked if his feet hurt and he said no. Then on Saturday, he hobbled through the airport, slow as could be. I turned to Joy and said, "It's Disney Magic! He walks!" Alas, the Disney Magic has worn off and he was his usual cannonball self at church.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Comment on the road to Damascus

Pres. Uchtdorf spoke about us "waiting on the road to Damascus" for a Paul-like heavenly manifestation that wipes out our doubt. He commented, among other things, that we gain a knowledge of truth by living it and moving forward, that answers come on our feet as often as on our knees.

I note that when Saul was on the road to Damascus, he was on his feet, doing the things he believed God wanted him to do. It was in that circumstance that God turned him around.

Movie review: Harry Potter 6 and Tron: Legacy

I'm way late on reviewing this to do anybody any good, but I'd invite discussion if you think differently. I finally got to see HP6 on the plane in to Copenhagen and was rather disappointed. There are of course spoilers in here so I'll put it below the fold. By way of comparison, lest anyone think I'm a tough critic, I loved what they did with #4 and I liked movie #5 better than I liked book #5. This is the first of the series I thought really fell short.

I also got to see Tron: Legacy. My review of that is much shorter and I don't need to spoil anything. Here goes:

Tron 2 had some nice special effects and was great video game nerd bait. That was its job. Okay, so most of the plot and story elements were overly recycled. Okay, so they really could have done a better job developing the Tron character. Like, giving him a line? Okay, the obligatory romance was based on shared hardship instead of bonding over ANYthing they had in common other than good looks. So I could see the plot "twists" coming from 20 minutes away. So what? It was a summer action flick. With low expectations comes low responsibility. They even gave me a nice religious metaphor on our dual nature and godly sacrifice. I call that a win. Good job, team.

Staying Awake in Cobenhavn

I'm in Copenhagen for a work conference starting tomorrow. I'll be presenting some work tomorrow and need to be well rested ... but I didn't sleep on the plane and need to stay awake now so I'll be able to sleep tonight. So I'm going to keep myself awake by putting you to sleep with a little gratuitous blogging.

Copenhagen is cloudy today but ever so much warmer than Ithaca. I visited here once, long long ago at the beginning of my postdoc with Per. That was the beginning of my involvement with the textbook on global food policy that will be published this Oct-Dec. Now we're at the beginning of another project on the political economy of government food policy, working with researchers from over 17 different countries.

This time I don't have a camera. I'm hoping to remedy that situation before Hy goes to Disneyworld in two weeks. If you would like to see my pics from the last time I was here (funny, it seems it was cloudy then too. Psh, Europe!) try here and here is where I hid the pictures of Thorvaldsen's statues of Jesus and His disciples.

I somehow managed to lose the directions to my hotel. I asked around, got directions to the wrong one that got me directions to the right one. It was a comfort to me during my wandering around to suddenly realize I had been in the area before! Despite the construction going on downtown, I recognized a lot of the buildings (oh, yes, I remember taking a picture of that building to show everyone Americanization ... and that's where the statue of Hans Christian Andersen is, though I can't see him just now behind the construction wall....)

When I was in Germany, the exchange rate was about 1.6 DM to $1. Over here it's 5kroner to $1 and it takes some real mental effort to tell myself, "No, it does not cost 24DM=$18 to ride the bus, only 24K=$4.80. ... No, you did not just spend 100DM=$60 for food, only 100K=$20...." and on and on.

Getting around in Denmark is quite easy because just about anyone I bump into speaks English quite well and they are rarely shocked when someone walks up to them and starts speaking in English. A lot of the signs are in English too.

My advisor, boss, co-author, mentor, and friend Per warned me that the hotel rooms at the CabInn really are cabins and quite small. I'm impressed someone of his height can sleep on the bed, myself. The room is just a smidgen larger than my old dorm room, but is smaller than the double rooms. There is a second bunk that can be folded up against the wall and that's how two people could share the room. While there's always hotel-culture shock for me, I remind myself that this is closer to par for the course in Europe.

My room's bathroom is something else. Imagine you are standing in a small bathtub. To your immediate right is the showerhead. To your immediate left is the toilet. In front of you is the sink. Take one step and you've either run into something or you're out of the room. There's a curtain you can use to wrap around yourself and close off the toilet from the shower. I decided to move the toilet paper out of the room to make sure it didn't get soaked. In its defense, the shower was wonderful - excellent water pressure.

I wandered down the road after a nap to a local grocery store for lunch and dinner fixings. It being Sunday (and my naturally frugal nature) I dislike the thought of wandering into various the cafes and spending 80-100 ... (not dollars, kroner) for a bit to eat. At least with a grocer I won't have to bother anyone for dinner. So now I have my usual German feed: full kernel bread (which my still-growing kidney stones don't like so much, but they'll just have to tough it out for a day. They didn't seem to mind on my mission.), with cucumber, "Bondehus" cheese, and frikadella open faced sandwich, plus bananas, carrots, and juice. Bondehus apparently translates as cottage or farm, but it's not cottage cheese like we know it: it's hard and low fat.

For the record, the Danes and other Germans never take kindly to my reminiscing about my time in the former East Germany. Germans are none to popular anyway, much less east Germans. Last time here when I fondly recalled how many things reminded me of my time there, a west German made it clear that it was a distressing comparison. Of course, since all I knew at the time was east Germany, that's all I could compare it to. By now I've visited a fairly large swath of west-central Europe (Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Germany, Italy, Finland) and can differentiate a bit better between common Europa, typical German (typisch Deutsch), and distinctly Ossie (east German).