Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Zeke Turns Five

Zeke turned five on Monday.

To celebrate, we ate Snowman Cake with friends.

He asked for his very own Lego set, which he received. He also got a Tonka digger for playing outside in the swamp he and Victor have engineered.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Zeke's New Bed

In the past months, Zeke has been getting increasingly too big for his toddler bed. So I've been cruising Craigslist for a bed that that is similar in size, style and color to Victor's bed.

(Bunk beds were out after we test drove them at Thanksgiving. Too hard to make.)

Finally, late on Saturday afternoon, I saw the perfect bed on Craigslist. Right color, right style, right size. So I called the poster, discussed a price, and hopped into the big van to go and get it. I had to drive to a town I had never visited before, but everything went smoothly.

The bed was perfect. The seller loaded it up, I drove it home, and Jeremy and I set it up.

One thing I hadn't fully appreciated was how tall it is. It's easily the tallest bed in the house. Zeke loves having the tallest bed.

Poor Zeke was quite ill on Saturday, but he still mustered some real excitement about his new bed.

As he told me on Sunday morning, "Now you can come and snuggle with me!"

And here is Victor's bed (covered with displaced items from the closet, which had to absorb Zeke's clothing because Zeke's armoire is now in a different room.)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Zeke's Genes

Yesterday, as I was putting away some laundry, I noticed that Zeke's shirts were in the wrong order in his closet.

I figured they must have fallen off the bar and been haphazardly replaced, so I started to rearrange them.

But I suddenly stopped. Because I noticed something. They were, in fact, in order. The collared shirts were in rainbow order on the left and the uncollared shirts were in rainbow order on the right. (Except that orange was after green. But that's a minor detail.)




He really is my child, after all.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Hand Me Downs

This week we got a great big collection of hand me downs.

We love hand me downs.  It is satisfying to really, truly use up clothing.

Here is Victor modeling some of his new clothes: a bow tie and "a little missionary . . . shirt."

Saturday, November 17, 2012

To Do List

At breakfast this morning, I dictated to Victor a list of chores that needed to be done while I was at Relief Society.

To Do
[My dad has had a To Do list every day of his life. Each one says To Do across the top.]

0. Clean Kitchen [this is number "0" on the list because I added it after the other items were written.]

1. wash cichin floor.

     a. swep 2 tims
     b. reemof stuff
     c. fil mop plug in mop
     d. mop floor

2. cleen mom's bathroom

3. put rug in dryr

4. pack up things [Victor added this one himself. ]

When I arrived home after Relief Society, the work was done! I had a clean floor and a clean bathroom, yet I had done no cleaning.

It was magic.

Victor had also created a new list, of things to pack for Thanksgiving:

1. Birds book [he was inspired by a card sent to us by my aunt and uncle, which showed a sea bird]

2. Kloes

3. bag

4. food

Saturday, November 10, 2012


The boys are finally old enough for us to read to them from non-picture books.

Hooray! (Although we still do plenty of picture books.)

We started with Half Magic, which was delightful, on a long car ride. Then we started on Harry Potter.

One of the most enjoyable things about this reading time is observing Victor's imagination and analysis. He loves to stop us mid-sentence to speculate about what will happen or what something means.

For example, when Harry goes into the Forbidden Forest in book 1, he meets some centaurs who observe that Mars is very bright tonight.

When we read this, Victor became excited. "Wait! There is a creature in the forest! If Mars is very bright, it means that Mars is closer to Earth than normal. So that means the creature is a Martian!"

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Zeke's Question

Zeke: Mom, can I ask you a question?

Me: Sure. What would you like to ask?

Zeke: Why didn't you name me Shirley?

Questions Needed!

I've been having a great time writing my advice column for the Nauvoo Times. Many thanks to the people who send me questions! People are always interested to learn that all of the questions in my column are real.

But I'm running low! So if you have a question for The Real Issue, please send it to me.

It can be about anything: manners, in-laws, housekeeping, weddings, holidays, ward-related awkwardness. Mormon-related questions are especially welcome. Whatever is plaguing you. Or just bothering you. Or that you simply wonder about.

It can be a long or a short question.

You can leave it in the comments here, email me, or use the form at the bottom of my column.

Your name will not appear in the column, so unless you leave your question here in the comments, your identity will remain unknown to the Internet.


Thursday, October 25, 2012

A New Nephew!

My sister Liz had a baby early this morning!

This makes him my fourth new niece or nephew this year. He joins Lewis, Margaret, and Deanna, all of whom are brilliantly adorable.

But this baby has no name!

Victor thinks the baby should be named Peter, after his dad.

Zeke thinks the baby should be named George, after the monkey.

Sunday, October 14, 2012


This year, I have been attempting to make our yard more attractive.

So on Friday, Zeke and I planted bulbs. Some narcissus and something else that is shorter and blue. If we did it right, they should bloom in the spring. 

Friday afternoon and evening were very busy, so we didn't eat dinner until around 8:00 p.m., when Jeremy was actually home.

"Zeke," I said. "Tell Dad what we did today."

"We planted bulbs!" Zeke told Jeremy. "They will turn into flowers."

After some discussion that bulbs are like seeds, the conversation then turned to other things. A few minutes later, Victor asked, "Um, Mom, when you planted those lights today . . . "

"Lights?" I asked, puzzled.

"Yes, that you planted," he continued, miming a digging action with his hands.

"Oh!" I said, realizing the connection he had made. "The bulbs! Yes!"

Zeke cut in. "Yes. They will grow into flowers, and the flowers will light up."

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Jogging, Two Years Later

Two years ago, some friends and family and I ran in a 5K as Team SwindleFun.

I am happy to report that, two years later, I can still run 5K. And it's a lot easier now.

In fact, yesterday, I ran 4.4 miles. I was super impressed with myself.

My goal is to run 5 miles.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Soccer, Season 2

Victor and Zeke are both playing soccer this fall. Victor is on the Vikings and Zeke is on the Eagles. Both coaches are very good.

Yesterday, we went out on a limb and bought them cleats, which they love.

Today, during Victor's game, he made a good save while in goal, and talked a lot of, as Jeremy put it, smack. Which is funny because he's one of the youngest on the field. And he only taunts the really good players.

Victor played more than usual today because the star Viking got walloped by the ball to the gut and folded like a wet noodle. Jeremy, on the sidelines, also got walloped by a ball.

Zeke's game was entertaining. He made a goal, and bonked skulls with his teammate Ainsley.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

A Similarity

I have just discovered a similarity between Victor and Zeke.

They both get the same look to express regret when another person has said something wrong: tipping the head to one side and squinching one eye mostly closed.

Zeke just demonstrated this look for me.

We were playing "cats."

Me: Is it [the new (imaginary) baby cat] a girl cat?

Zeke, looking regretful for my mistake: No, it is a boy cat because I am a boy and it came out of my egg.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


After soccer practice yesterday, Victor was sweaty.

We got in the car.

He said, "My sweat bowels are empty. So I need a drink of water."

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Primary Visual Aids

Jeremy has a new calling. He is Victor's new Primary teacher! Jeremy has taught senior primary and
Nursery, but never junior primary.

Before his first lesson, I asked him what kind of visual aids he had prepared. Because what I most remember about being the primary music lady was the visual aids.

After his first lesson, I saw the visual aids he had provided for his class.

That's right! Tell the Truth paper airplanes! Each child decorated his own. Or her own. Since Victor is the only boy.

Monday, September 17, 2012

In the Paper

Jeremy's very funny AF1 ad was featured in Uncle Orson Reviews Everything last week!

It starts on page 3 of the article.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Air Force One's New Family

Meet Doug!

He's the guy on the left, in the Bob Marley t-shirt.

Doug is Air Force One's new driver.

And he thought it was totally normal that I wanted to take this picture.

The man in the middle is James. He is Doug's friend. The man in the I [love] Montpelier shirt is Jeremy, or course.

As much grief as Air Force One caused me over the years, it was very sad to see him drive away and hear that distinctive hum for the last time.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Air Force One

Today, Jeremy listed Air Force One on Craigslist.

image 0

Here is his ad for "Much Beloved 1995 Lincoln Towncar:"

I drove this 1995 Lincoln Towncar from Greensboro to Winston-Salem every weekday for the past six years, to law school at Wake and then to my job in Winston. When I bought it six years ago, it had only 70,000 miles; it now has 188xxx.


1) Does it smoke? No. Exhaust is clear.

2) Does the check engine light come on? No, all is in order.

3) Does it have air conditioning? Yes, nice and cold.

4) Do you have to charge the air conditioning regularly? Yes, at least once a year, usually once at the beginning of summer and another time at the end; however, I just charged it, so you should be good to go for now.

5) My name starts with "M"; is this car good for me? Yes, someone keyed an "M" into the hood on the lower driver's side. This car is perfect for you.

image 3

6) Don't the air shocks in Lincoln Towncars go bad and leave the trunk dragging in an embarrassing fashion? Yes, and that already happened to me; the shocks have been converted to conventional shocks. Hence the "check air suspension" light will come on when you start the car, but you can disregard it, because the air shocks are no more.

7) I have pet bats who like to hang on the headliner; will I be damaging a pristine headliner if I buy this car? No. Children shredded the headliner in this car, so basically nothing your pet bats can do will harm it.
image 2

8) Tires? Newish, from Costco within the past year. Michelin X, I think.

9) Brakes? Within the past year or so, by Midas. Stops very well, no pulling.

10) I live in a very, very safe neighborhood and I don't like locking my car; is this car good for me? Yes. When you lock the driver's door, it still opens. That's new as of the past month or so. At least it will start honking if someone opens the door, though it is mostly likely that you will set it off yourself. I recommend using the driver's side door keypad before each entry.

11) I am on a diet; is this car good for me? Yes. The driver's window only rolled down if you pushed down hard on the driver's window switch for a long time and now it doesn't roll down at all. So, if you're tempted by drive-through, you won't be now, unless you're willing to debase yourself by propping the door open with your foot and reaching around the door.

12) I am really fat, though; will I fit in this car? Yes. It's big.

13) Does this car make any weird noises? Yes, a reee-eeee-eee noise. Battleground Tire tells me it is a belt tensioner, which they will charge $85 for parts and $85 for labor to replace. However, I've driven with that noise for a few months and, well, it still works. If you are good with math, you should calculate in the price of that repair when deciding whether to buy this car.

15) What about mileage? Well, if you lock it in at 65 on the freeway, you can get 26. But it gets 15 or so city. That's a reasonable consideration, but on the other hand, I now have a Golf TDI. I get 40 mpg, but I also have a car payment. I'm not money ahead; said another way, you can buy a whole lot of gas with the money you save buying this car vs. a $5,000 car.

14) Any other problems? Yes. (a) the battery is old. If you don't drive it for three weeks, it won't have the juice to start again. Drive it within that time, though, and you're good. (b) There is a rusty spot in a picture below. Just surface, but it's kind of ugly (c) it has 188k miles; that's a lot. (d) has AM/FM stereo and tape, no CD.
image 4

I adore this car. It's hideously out of fashion, but when you're behind the wheel driving somewhere with tons of room for you and your family and a trunk big enough to carry all of your strollers and bags and whatnot, with V8 power, it's a good ride. You'll be glad you're not in a Civic.

Also, on those rare occasions in snows here, you can get all Dukes of Hazzard with the rear wheel drive.

I will likely shed a genuine tear when you drive it away because it has been that wonderful. I hope you, the eventual purchaser, are similarly satisfied.

The car is parked on the street at [our address] if you want to check it out. But don't even bother looking at my sweet conversion van. Those 30 pinstripes of awesomeness are all mine and completely priceless.

image 1

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Everybody Knows Victor

Victor has all new classmates this year.

After the first few days, he was either unwilling or unable to tell me the names of any of them except Scott. But I think every class has a Scott.

So yesterday, I reminded him that everyone at his school was new. And that he could tell his new classmates his name, and ask theirs.

"Oh. Everybody knows my name," he replied with total confidence.

"They do?" I asked.

"Yes," he said. "It is Victor. It is a pretty easy name. Victor."

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Get-to-Know-You Necklace

Victor started school this Wednesday!


On the first day, his teacher had the children make Get-to-Know-You bead necklaces. Each bead has a meaning.

According to the instruction sheet, Victor's necklace means:

He is a boy.

He has one brother.

He has one pet. (He thought this was pretty funny to include because Dog is, of course, a stuffed dog.)

He likes reading.

He really likes math.

He has attended two schools before this one.

His initials are V. S.

He also added extra pink beads and extra letter beads "to make it look nice."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Down by the Bay

When I was in elementary school, my siblings learned the song "Down by the Bay" at preschool.

You may know this song from Raffi's album, "Singable Songs for the Very Young."

It goes like this:

Down by the bay
Where the watermelons grow
Back to my home
I dare not go

For if I do
My mother would say:
Did you ever see a [bear]
[Combing his hair]

Down by the bay!

Obviously, you fill in your own words for the ones in brackets.

Zeke has really taken to this song. His most interesting lyric this week was:

Did you ever see a destructive meteor
Killing a meat-eater?

Down by the bay!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Olympic Medals

Victor and I were just discussing the gold, silver, and bronze medals that Olympic atheletes earn.

He wanted to know what the worst person got.

He suggested a black medal, so the person knows he did poorly.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Zeke Jumps and Swims

Zeke has taught himself to swim this summer. His strategy was to get in the four foot part of pool with me, then launch himself away from me. Then, he would struggle madly to stay afloat. I was not allowed to touch him, and if I tried, he'd stick just his little hand out of the water and finger-wag me. If I moved toward him, he would use his brief breaths to tell me to stay away.

It was alarming/funny. So I would stand in the pool with my arms out, and he'd grab them when he was ready.

Eventually, he figured out how to swim underwater with breast stroke arms and a flutter kick. (Adorable.) He also figured out how to flutter kick on his back, float on his belly, and dive under my legs. Like Victor, he will not let me teach him how to do any strokes.

Zeke has never been particularly daring, so it was interesting to watch him try so hard at something difficult.

Last night was our ward pool party.

It was Victor and Zeke's first experience with a real diving board and a real deep end.

I was not concerned about Victor, but I was not sure Zeke would be able to make it back to the wall after his jump.

The lifeguard made him swim across the entire deep end of the pool before he was allowed to use the diving board, and he did it! He was so proud.

The diving board itself was super fun. He used it to exhaustion, and I had to pluck him out of the water after his last jump.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Ice Cream Surprise

This afternoon, I got some ice cream out of the freezer. I removed the lid and found this.

How Children Should Address Adults

Thanks to another SwindleFun reader for a great question that became yesterday's column!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


A couple of months ago, I started experimenting with ammonia.

It's my new favorite thing.

I have always cleaned with Mr. Clean or Lemon Lysol, and they do a good job.

But ammonia is awesome, as long as you don't stick your nose over it and inhale deeply.

First, it cuts through kitchen grease like nobody's business. Washing down my cabinets, walls, appliances, etc. takes less effort and is more effective when I use ammonia.

Second, it works wonderfully in bathrooms. Although I haven't tried it on the shower tiles or grout or anything that requires a more abrasive touch.

Third, it is awesome on floors. I hear it is very good on wood floors and brilliant at removing waxy build-up, but I don't have either of those. I just have vinyl, and it cleans it up very well.

Fourth, although the smell is pungent while you are cleaning, it rapidly fades into the glorious smell of nothing. I love it when my house smells like nothing.

To use ammonia, scrub and rinse your sink. Then plug it and, while you are running in hot water, add several glugs of ammonia. I have only tried regular ammonia, but lemon scent is also available.

I hear ammonia is also great for laundry, but I haven't tried that yet. Catch the Window, do you have any info on that?

Monday, July 9, 2012

Victor's Vocabulary

It is always interesting to see what words my boys pick up from the TV shows they watch.

Can you identify which show resulted in the conversation I had in the car with Victor this afternoon?

Me: Look at that white truck.

Victor: That looks like the one Grandma and Grandpa have.

Me, surprised: Yes. How did you remember that?

Victor, with customary self-depreciating chuckle: Oh. Heh. I have good back-story memory.

Also, unrelated to TV, he calls speedometers "speed thermometers."

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Falcon Cam

Victor and Zeke's favorite animal is the peregrine falcon. They like it because it can dive at 200 miles per hour, faster than any other animal.

Last week, Jeremy found a falcon cam online. If you follow the link, you can watch three baby falcons on a ledge in Boise.

The boys and their dad check the falcons every night. Usually, there is very little action. But the one night they convinced me to watch, one of the parent falcons brought home a dead animal for supper. We got to watch it rip meat off the carcass and distribute it to the babies.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

An Answer

Dear Catch the Window,

Remember when you asked about the glycemic index? Today's Nauvoo Times column is for you!



Monday, June 25, 2012

All About Me In Kindergarten

Victor made an All About Me book in kindergarten this year.

Here are the highlights of what he had to say about himself, with original spelling preserved.

Name: Victor

Age: 6

Nickname: Sqishee Fase

Favorite Food: scrogeunof

Favorite Place at School: Art

Why: I like to draw.

I like my teachers because: they are nise

Favorite Subject: is math

Favorite Project: wen we did the map of the class room

Favorite Thing That Happened This Year: was going on the playground

Least Favorite Thing about This Year: doing work

What I Like to Do Best with My Friend: play duttivs [detectives]

Next year I plan to: make new friends

When I grow up I want to be: an inginer

Favorite Animal: cheedu

Favorite Color: red

Favorite Number: 173

Favorite TV Show: Phineus and Ferb

Favorite Thing to Do: swim in the pool.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

My Mommy, by Zeke

This is how Zeke filled out his Mother's Day questionnaire about me. The italics show his words.

Her name is Cyndie.

She is 55 years old.

She lives in North Carolina.

Her job is cleaning clothes.

Her favorite food is sandwiches.

She likes to read.

Her favorite color is red.

She loves me.

By: Zeke

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Social Niceties

Victor is generally very good at social niceties: Hello, How are you, I'm fine, Please, Thank you, Excuse me, etc.

But today he made a funny mistake.

He had very nicely asked a grocery store clerk for a red balloon. She gave it to him (and one to Zeke), and he received it with obvious enthusiasm.

Me: What do you tell the clerk, Victor?

Victor, looking at the clerk: Did you know it is 90 degrees outside? [Pointing to the fan.] You should turn on your blower.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Zeke's Prayers

Tonight, I prompted Zeke to add to his personal prayers:

Me: "Please help me to learn to share."

Zeke, audibly: "Please help me learn to share."

Zeke, whispered: "But not with Victor because I do not share with Victor."

Me: "Please help me not to hit."

Zeke, audibly: "Please help me not to hit."

Zeke, whispered: "But I always hit Victor."

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Too Much Fun

In our house, as Saturday approaches, Zeke asks if it will be A Good Saturday or A Bad Saturday.

On A Bad Saturday, Jeremy goes to work.

On A Good Saturday, Jeremy stays home and plays with the boys all day.

Today, though, I think we might have maxed out on fun.

First, Jeremy and the boys ate breakfast together.

Then, they played Cars and Bruder trucks on the play mat Aunt Candice made them for Christmas.

Then, it was time for haircuts.

After that, they experimented with different paper airplane models from the library book we checked out on Friday.

Around 2, we ate lunch (thanks, Aunt Liz!) and discovered that Victor has exceeded the maximum allowed height (54") of the Chick-fil-A play area. (He played anyway, just gently.)

After lunch, Jeremy took the boys on a bike ride.

Then Jeremy had to run an errand. So the boys had to go to the grocery store with me, which was not very fun because we did not go to the store with free cookies.

After that, just before bedtime, Jeremy took the boys to an auto race at one of our local race tracks.

It's 10:44 p.m., and they just walked in the door. They will now attempt to sleep off all that fun.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


On Monday, we covered a very important topic in Family Home Evening.

Our lesson was "We Don't Eat Ice Cream for Breakfast."

This is an actual problem in our house.

We learned that ice cream is not a breakfast food. Neither are cookies, cake, or marshmallows.

We did not explicitly say that cookie dough is not for breakfast, which is why, I'm sure, that some small boy ate a Tupperware of it for breakfast this morning.

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Victor and Zeke like to plot against Jeremy.

I'm not sure why they like to do this, but they put their little heads together and whisper about ways to make Jeremy cold, wet, and hungry.

Then they laugh.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

The Real Issue

The Real Issue is the name of the weekly advice column I will be writing.

My column will appear every Thursday, and there will be a form on the site in case you want to submit a question.

A number of lucky SwindleFun readers will be catapulted to fame in the coming weeks as I answer their questions in The Real Issue.

Really--instant stardom!

Thursday, May 24, 2012

My New Project Revealed

Today, my new project is presented to the world!

Or at least to persons who happen to go to the exciting new Nauvoo Times website.

I hope that Mad Gone Mom is particularly interested in what is there.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Nerd Alert

Back in March, Jeremy and I celebrated a national event: the Supreme Court hearings on the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act, a.k.a. Obamacare.

We were so excited, because who wouldn't be excited by three whole days of hearing the nation's best advocates? We could listen to the day's arguments every evening! Hours of stimulating fun!

The night after the first day of oral arguments, we got the kids to bed, the broke out the Jambox and iPad so we could listen and read along.

But the streaming audio wouldn't work! So we tried to download the arguments. That wouldn't work either! I immediately thought that it must be because everyone was downloading them and the system was backed up. 

Then the rational part of my brain caught up to the nerd part of my brain. And I realized that no, no one else was downloading it. 

Monday, May 21, 2012

Five Bunny Cakes

One of our most beloved family traditions is the Bunny Cake, served after Easter dinner.

This year, not only did each of my siblings participate, but I got pictures of each bunny cake.

This is Katie's cake. It was her first ever Bunny Cake, and she gets high marks for the creative celery whiskers.

Candice was also a first-time Bunny Caker. She upped the awesomeness with fabric ears and candy carrots.

Liz is not a first-timer. This is her preferred Bunny: chocolate on chocolate with chocolate eggs.

My parents and Alex and Molly's family enjoyed this rather alarming looking rat/bunny. It was designed and executed by cousin Scott. He's an artist. 

Here is my very traditional Bunny Cake. I went classic this year because the coconut makes the cake extra delicious. Also because I (thankfully) had no leftover birthday frosting hanging around.

And Victor participated this year! He did the ears and the sign all by himself after an extended discussion about how to spell "cake." He preferred "cacke," because "ck" says /k/ and the "e" makes the "a" say its name.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Baby Books

Here are my favorite books for new parents. Or any parents!

1. Miss Manner's Guide to Rearing Perfect Children, by Judith Martin

Amazingly, there are some child-rearing questions that actually have right answers! This book will tell you what they are! You will go forth confident that you know what is right and what to do. And you will love her writing. Love!

Miss Manners is the best.

2. Einstein Never Used Flash Cards, by Kathy Hirsh-Pasek et al.

This book saved me from being a flash-card mom.

It made me into a play-oriented mom and suggested what kinds of play are most worthwhile by explaining how children really learn. In short, children learn by doing and experiencing. It doesn't matter if a preschooler can look at a picture of a sphere and say "sphere," for example. It is important that a child discovers that a ball will roll down her driveway when she drops it. And that she can hypothesize that an orange will also roll down the driveway, which thing she can then test.

This book also presents all kinds of developmental milestones that do not appear anywhere else. For example, when a child can add one more to a series he has already counted by just saying the next number instead of re-counted the entire set.

It also informed many of my opinions on education.

3. Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, by Mark Weissbluth

One of the best things about being a first-time mom is that you can schedule your life around naptime without having to balance other children's needs. But when is naptime? How do you know?

The thing I liked about this book is that it explained what kind of sleep I could expect developmentally from my baby. It made suggestions for the kind of sleep cycle typical in any given age so I knew what to look for and when to expect changes.

The best thing I learned in this book is that the more a baby sleeps, the better a baby sleeps.

I have never had a truly fussy baby, but he has another book on that topic. I have not read it.

4. Why Gender Matters, by Leonard Sax

There are a number of gender-differences books out there, and the funny thing is that they all insult each other. This one was very sensible, and it made me aware of behaviors and physiological traits that are typically different between boys and girls. It does not make broad "Boys always . . . " or "All girls . . . "claims. And it doesn't suggest you steer you girl in X direction just because she's a girl.

But it does explore differences between boys and girls in a way that has helped me parent two boys. If nothing else, it identified ways in which my boys were likely to be different from me and to experience the world differently. I could then watch for those differences instead of freak out about them. 

For example, did you know that boys have different ratios of rods and cones in their eyes than girls? It causes them to respond to colors differently. (Again, we are speaking broadly here, not of specific children.) This helped me not freak out when Victor was three and a half and could not identify a single color. Not one! Zeke, on the other hand, knew all of his colors (down to pink and tan and gray) by the time he was 18 months.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Zeke Buys a Churro

Zeke and I went to Costco today. He earned a churro with good behavior.

While I was in the checkout line, Zeke took his dollar and went to stand in the churro line.

He made his way to the front of the line, and when it was his turn, he proudly stepped to the counter.

The churro clerk looked right over his head at the lady behind him and asked he what she wanted. She started to order. Zeke just stood there.

Mom to the rescue!

I stepped up to the churro register, pointed at Zeke, and said to the clerk, "Hi. He was next."

The clerk looked confused to see someone so short in line, but the lady behind him in line was very nice.

Zeke then ordered and paid for his churro.

He was very proud.

A SwindleFun Vacation

Last Wednesday, we went on vacation. We drove to Nashville to attend my brother's law school graduation.

Jeremy loves to drive, so the trip was fun for him.The boys like to look at large trucks on the freeway, so the trip was fun for them. I like audiobooks, so the trip was fun for me. My mom was with us, too. She loves green scenery, so the trip was fun for her.

Not everything went smoothly. The van's battery died on Wednesday and again on Friday and had to be replaced in Nashville. And Victor threw up in the bushes of Vanderbilt as soon as we arrived at the ceremony. He said, "Oh. I think I have to throw up a little now." And did. Jeremy took him home and missed the graduation. Zeke stayed. He is uncommonly easy to take places.

Friday was both the graduation and my birthday. The weather was beautiful, and Peter looked awesome in his tam, gown, and hood. Candice made me a delicious minty frozen cake, and Jeremy gave me a new hubcap for the Camry. My mom gave me some killer new sneakers.

On Saturday, we and Grandma and Grandpa took the boys and cousin Laura to the Nashville Zoo. She loves dinosaurs, or did love dinosaurs until we went through the dinosaur exhibit. The robot dinosaurs were pretty scary.

The zoo was very walkable and the kid play area was super fun. I went up the cargo nets and down a multi-story tube slide because I am so darn fun.

We did a lot of visiting, swam at the Y, attended Sacrament Meeting on Sunday morning, and ate Candice's delicious food. The boys and Laura played bad guys and swords.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Twenty Two Days

Yesterday, Zeke, Grandma, and I went to visit Victor's school.

We sat through lunch in the cafeteria. Then we went to see Victor's classroom.

Victor showed us the "how many days of school" tally on the board and explained that he had attended 158 days so far. He then told us that there were 180 days total.

So how many days are left of the school year?

With some counting and tally marks, he figured the answer: 22.

Unlike Mad Gone Mom, I am not excited about this. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

Zeke Fits

It is easy to see that Victor is my child.

If you took me and Jeremy and smooshed us together, you'd get Victor. In fact, you did get Victor.

He looks like us and acts like us. It's clear.

Zeke was a little more of a mystery to me until lately. But then he developed a couple of 100% Jeremy traits.

For example, he developed a fear of the dark. He comes tearing into our room at night, terrified. Poor thing! Jeremy doesn't like the dark, either. Because of the wolves.

The other thing about Zeke is that he loves sausage and bacon. When we visited the new Whole Foods on Thursday, he was allowed to choose any treat he wanted. He chose sausage. He was so serious and excited that the butcher let him choose any two links for free.

When we got home, he insisted on cooking one of his sausages and saving the other for breakfast. He would not share even a single bite. It was a treasure.

Jeremy doesn't treasure sausage. But he does like it a lot.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Organized Sports Fun

Victor and Zeke now play soccer games each Saturday.

So far, the quality of the game has depended on the skill of the other team. A more skillful opponent results in a much better game overall.

Victor grasped what he was supposed to do right off the bat in the first game. He became frustrated by the other team's success and focused on booting the ball away from his team's goal. When he was finally successful, he threw up his arms and yelled "YES!" Then he bear-hugged Zeke (see photo) and swung him around while the coach nicely yelled to them that the game was still going.

Zeke took a couple of games to warm up, and today made a nice play by dribbling down the field about five feet. It was a slo-mo dribble, and he seemed surprised by it. He likes to wave at me.

The teams play four on four, which leaves about half the team free to amuse itself at any given time. Today's off-field amusement for Victor and three others was Spiders and Flies. Victor was the Spider.

Then they played Birds and Worms. First, they were all birds. Then, Victor was a worm.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Civic Minded

Yesterday, Zeke and I distributed door hangers to registered voters in our neighborhood, reminding them to vote in the May 8 primary.

I held the map and identified addresses. Zeke ran up to doors and hung the hangers.

He got a real kick out of it, but needed to hold my hand for energy by the end.

Did you know that holding hands with Mom gives small boys extra energy? Just like a power up in a video game!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Meat Eaters

We tried a new chicken recipe for dinner on Tuesday.

Victor said it was so good, it must be wildebeest. You know, the thing with tusks.

Then, he and Zeke discussed the best way to kill a wildebeest.

Victor thinks a gun is best. Zeke suggested a sharp spear.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

First Commercial Purchase

It's Spring Break (woo!), so I took both boys with me to Costco on Tuesday.

I told them that if they stayed right with me during the shopping, they could each earn a churro.

They stuck with me--TO me--to perfection, and earned their churros.

As I was standing in the checkout line, I had a great idea. I gave Victor some money and sent both of them to stand in the churro line. It was about five feet away from where I was standing, so I could easily see how adorable they looked waiting in line.

Victor did very well and purchased his churro very politely. I think it was his first purchase for which he was issued a receipt.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Easter Treat

Zeke got ten Easter eggs at preschool today. He and Victor decided to fill them with treasures and hide them around the house.

They filled seven with Squinkies, one with the wheels from a Playmobil go-cart, and two with applesauce.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

New Project Update

My new project is going well.

I appreciate all of the questions you have sent.

Please send more!

Monday, March 19, 2012

SwindleFam FHE

Victor takes his education very seriously, including his P.E. class.

Tonight, he taught us some of his P.E. exercises for FHE.

First, we ran in place. We ran as fast as we could.

Then, we did push-ups (I think the family collectively did about four).

After that came curl-ups (sit-ups where your hands stay on the floor).

Finally, we did front and back stretches.

Victor had a couple of recommendations for us. First, eat less. Second, try to exercise a little more.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012


For a real treat, head outside right now (if it's nighttime) and look west.

If you can see what I see, you will see two crazy bright stars just under Taurus. You can't miss them. They are Venus and Jupiter.

It's so fun to see Jupiter!

Monday, March 12, 2012

Soccer Evaluation

Last week, I signed up the boys for spring soccer, a first in our family.

This evening was the mandatory skills evaluation. It was painful. I learned that I should have come at 7, not 6. Standing in line was torture. My boys wrestled with each other and made a ruckus the entire time.

Also, our skills were probably not worth evaluating.

Artistic Differences

On Saturday, our family attended a birthday party at the local Chuck E. Cheese's. I was trying to decide between wearing either a long necklace or a flower pin on my sweater.

I asked Jeremy and Victor what they thought.

Jeremy looked at the flower and said, emphatically, "Necklace!"

Victor looked at the flower and said, excitedly, "Flower!"

I went back into my room to ask my mirror.

Victor followed me and said, very soothingly and a little sadly, "Dad just doesn't like beauty."

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Vocabulary Mixup

Today, Victor's homework assignment was to imagine what a dinosaur would do at school. He was then to draw a picture and write a sentence about it.

He drew a rather convincing stegosaurus, a coconut tree, and some leaves. Then he drew some tiny mouse holes and a T-rex that was traveling underground.

He took time to explain to me that the stegosaurus has a spiky tail "to protect it from its creditors."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Scripture Study

On Sunday, I taught a Relief Society lesson about Envy, Jealousy, and Covetousness. I was inspired by item 9 of George Albert Smith's personal creed:

"I would overcome the tendency to selfishness and jealousy and rejoice in the successes of all the children of my Heavenly Father."

If you are interested in doing a little topical study, you might consider this topic. The topical guide entries on Envy and Covet are very useful (envy is all over the scriptures), as are Pres. Benson's 1989 gospel classic "Beware of Pride," Elder Holland's memorable 2002 talk, "The Other Prodigal," and the Golden Ticket section of Pres. Uchtdorf's "Forget-Me-Not" talk at the October 2011 General RS Meeting.

A few things to note:

--Envy and Covetousness are all about comparing yourself to others

--There are scriptural admonitions about covetousness to the rich (e.g. D&C 19:36) and the poor (e.g. D&C 56:17)

--When you put on your envy goggles or let envy cloud your life, you don't see things clearly

--Luke 12:13–15. "And one of the company said unto him, 'Master, speak to my brother, that he divide the inheritance with me.' And he said unto him, 'Man, who made me a judge or a divider over you?' And he said unto them, 'Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth.'"

Monday, March 5, 2012

Fun Mom Rides a Bike

This Saturday, Jeremy wanted me to come on the weekly biking adventure he takes with the boys.

Since his birthday is this week, I agreed.

I don't have a bike, but there are some "free rental" bikes available at one of our parks. As you can imagine, they are one-speed beach cruisers and are not in very good repair.

Riding was fun, but my bike squeaked so loudly that I thought a persistent songbird was following me. Jeremy was kind enough to ride a loaner bike with me, and his seat kept tipping him backward.

There were free rental helmets, too. Since, the bikes were light blue, I was worried that the coordinating helmets would make me look like a UN peace keeper. Lucky for me, they were just normal bike helmets.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Free to Choose

Tonight, 2 Nephi 2 was up for family scripture study. I introduced the topic.

Me: We are going to read about choosing the way you will live.

Victor, apparently thinking I meant to discuss the way one stays alive: My way to live is to not eat anything poison. That way I will live. What is your way to live, Mom?

Friday, March 2, 2012

SwindleFun Translates

Yesterday, Zeke and I went to the grocery store.

As we waited in line, an old lady approached our cashier and asked him where she could find the straws.

He looked confused and asked her to repeat her question.

So she asked again for the location of the straws.

He looked worried and vaguely pointed to the customer service desk.

Suddenly, I realized the problem. She was clearly from New York or New Jersey. He was southern. And he couldn't understand her accent.

Fortunately for everyone, we at SwindleFun speak Yankee, and we kindly directed her to the paper plate aisle to purchase her straws.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

My New Project

Dear Readers,

I am working on a new project, and I need your help.

I need your questions! They can be any kind of question about which you would like advice or input. Mormon-themed social or etiquette questions would be particularly welcome. You may post them here or email me or FB message me. I promise to protect your identity if you wish.

I may or may not reveal the exact nature of my project in late Spring, depending on how the project is progressing.

Thank you!


Friday, February 24, 2012

Sick Strategy

Victor and Zeke are both sick.

So far, it's just been high fevers, but Zeke has started coughing, and Victor just informed me that he has thrown up three times this afternoon.

I told him that he was amazing to get to the toilet in time.

He explained his strategy: 

"Since the throw-up stuff tries to make me throw up immediately, here is what I do. I hold it, then I go to the bathroom, then I spit."

Monday, February 20, 2012

Biz Saves a Shirt. A Helmet Saves Zeke.

On Catch the Window's suggestion, I bought some Biz a few weeks ago. I was just waiting to have a protein stain awesome enough to test it.

My wish came true on Saturday.

Jeremy took the boys on their customary Saturday bike-riding adventure, and Zeke crashed.

It was a big crash.

With plenty of blood that seeped from Zeke's face onto Jeremy's white shirt as they sat in the urgent care.

Biz was equal to the task!

After a good soak, Jeremy's shirt is good as new!

Zeke is fine, too. His helmet caught most of the impact, so his wounds are shallow, if ugly.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Oddly Specific

Yesterday, as we were driving to Costco, Victor told me that in my car, the pedal on the left is the brake and the pedal on the right is the gas.

Me: That's right. How do you know that?

V: Because when my bus driver presses the pedal on the left, which is a rectangle, it is the brake. The pedal on the right is wavy and is the diesel.

That is, he calls it "the diesel" instead of "the gas" because it is important to him that a bus runs on diesel and not on gasoline.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

SwindleFun Solves Problems That Are Probably Already Solved

Cataloging the Chaos is working on a super-fun home project.

She asked the following questions about her kitchen a couple of weeks ago, and although she has probably solved her problems already, I simply must throw in my two cents. Because that's what I do.

Question 1: Clutter always accumulates on the counters. I have baskets, but the baskets overflow. I suppose not being lazy would help this one.

Answer 1: You are right! The only solution to clutter is to get rid of it. Using baskets as a way station for temporarily necessary things (like current bills and paperwork that needs to be dealt with) only works if you clean them out frequently.

Question 2: Clutter always accumulates on the fridge.

Answer 2:  Clean it off once a week. Put away things that have a place and toss everything else.

(If you are struggling with children who want to display lots of things, I have an idea we can discuss later. Because I know you want my ideas!)

Question 3: What to do with the plastic grocery bags.

Answer 3: Scrunch them up and put them in a single bag whose handle you tie to the wire shelf in the corner of your pantry. 

Question 4: My plastic containers are always always a big fat mess.

Answer 4: First, toss everything that is gross, broken, or missing a lid. Next, stack all of the same size and kind together. Put lids near them in a rarely-used baking dish (I use a Pyrex bread pan) that is heavy enough not to tip over all the time. Put tall lids in back and short lids in front.

When you need new plastic containers (which happens every couple of years), get a set that uses the same lid for several sizes of container. Or a set that is all the same size. Then simply stack the lids next to or underneath the containers.

Question 5: I need some way to hide the faucet. It is just bare, and it faces the living room. I want to mask it some way and make that space beautiful instead of bare. It gets wet quite frequently while doing dishes, washing mud off of little feet, conducting science experiments without mom's permission, etc., so baskets or anything like that are out. Any ideas?

Answer 5: Yes! Just keep it clean and shiny. It's much easier than managing additional stuff on the counter.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

SwindleFun Answers the Blogosphere's Rhetorical Questions

Two days ago, Mad Gone Mom asked the following questions:

1. Our kids can't stay in their chairs at dinner.  What should we do about it?

2. We have been busy every Monday night for the last forever.  Should we worry that we haven't had a formal FHE in forever?

3. Are pull-ups or wet sheets preferable?

4. What do you do when your kids really aren't friends with each other?

5. How much Phineas and Ferb can one child watch? 

Being a naturally nosy and interfering person, I will now answer.

1. Find a pressure point and lean on it. In our house, earning things like dessert and Bruder trucks is extremely effective. Also, keep mealtimes as short as possible.

2. Yes. What you should do is announce that whatever evening activity you are doing is FHE. Then, when you are done, announce how much you enjoyed this evening's special FHE. Voila! You have had a formal FHE.

3. Pull-ups.

4. Nothing.

5. At least 5 hours straight without eating.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Victor's Vocabulary

Last Thursday, Victor told me he knew the word "dismember."

Me (interested/alarmed): Dismember?

Victor: Yes. It means when you can't remember what happened first and then next and next. Dismember!

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Awesomest Kid Ever

This morning, when Jeremy went to wake Victor for school, Victor told him he had thrown up five of six times in the night.

He had gotten out of bed, gone into the bathroom, used the facilities, washed his face, put an emergency container next to his bed, and gone back to sleep.

All by himself.

And there is no mess.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Look

I think it's time to give SwindleFun a new look.

This green is getting tired.

Monday, January 23, 2012

True Love

Zeke often comes into our room at night, crying.

It is usually related to growing pains in his arms and legs. I give him a tablet Tylenol, he climbs into our bed, and he falls asleep about 15 minutes later when the medicine kicks in.

Sometimes he is scared of strange shapes in the dark. He gets that from Jeremy, who doesn't like the dark because dark = lurking wolf waiting to eat you.

(No matter why he comes in, he is required to use the toilet before approaching my bed.)

The other night I asked him why he had come in to sleep with me.

Here is his explanation:

"Because I am the only one who loves you, Mommy."

Thursday, January 19, 2012


I have always been satisfied with Shout as my primary stain remover. It works very well.

But, being fun, I like to try new things.

So I picked up some Oxyclean powder when I saw it on sale just before Thanksgiving.

I have been using it as a stain-removing soak.

Verdict: this stuff is amazing. So far, it has removed pomegranate, chocolate milk from two years ago, old grease stains, mystery stains on two of Jeremy's work shirts, ring around the collar, and blue ink from a year ago.

It did not remove axle grease from the Bobcat that someone parked in the church parking lot.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012


When I picked up Zeke from preschool yesterday, he asked me about my "new tire."

I told him I didn't have a new tire, but Dad did (tire puncture = new tire).

About two hours later, I looked out my kitchen window and saw what he meant.

It was one of those stomach-lurching moments.

I had lost a hubcap.

This may not seem like a big deal, but when you drive a 1998 Camry with a gash in the left passenger front panel, the least you can do is keep all four hubcaps.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Nancy Knows

Jeremy has wonderful parents. It's always fun to learn things from them.

For example, I have always thought it odd that his mom buys a gallon of distilled water to do her ironing when she comes to town.

Until I tried it on Friday night. (That's what I did for amusement while Jeremy worked late.)

Would you believe that distilled water improves the ironing experience? It does!

The steam is hotter.

The iron glides more smoothly.

There is no occasional discharge from the iron.

The starch doesn't flake.

Thanks, Nancy!

Friday, January 6, 2012

He's Ours!

Zeke turned four on Christmas Eve. We put the Happy Birthday banner on the tree.

He requested, and was granted, a chocolate candy cane cake. I had never made ganache before. It was delicious. In fact, the whole chocolate peppermint cake was delicious.

He received some very nice gifts: balloons tied to the mailbox (he loves balloons), puzzles (he loves puzzles), Legos (he loves Legos), and a Cars 2 kite (he loves Cars and kites).

But the most exciting thing about his birthday happened today, January 6, 2012.

Today we made the final payment to the hospital for the bill we received after his birth.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Santa Still Came

I fear that some have misinterpreted my Santa post.

I'm not anti-Santa.

I do not try to destroy Santa-belief.

I do, in fact, think Santa is fun.

I even have a festive Santa decoration.

I just can't actively, enthusiastically tell Victor--when asked flat out--that Santa is real.

As proof: Santa came to our house.

He wrote the boys a letter, as Santa always does when he visits a SwindleHouse.

He left the boys some magical gifts. Victor got the world's best-ever delivery truck. Zeke got airplanes and a Where's Waldo? book. That Santa is so smart.

Santa repaired two of our Bruder trucks with some spare parts he had in his sleigh.

Even I received a surprise from Santa: a mophie case for my phone. It's a case and battery all in one. Awesome when you have to be somewhere that you make heavy use of your phone but have no way to charge your phone. Like the science center.

Thanks, Santa!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

2011 Resolution Account

My goal for 2011 was to improve my posture.

I accomplished my goal.

Here are some posture-related discoveries:

1. Good posture while sitting is the most difficult for me to achieve. It's so easy to slump in a seat! But better sitting posture is also the most rewarding because it enables one to play the piano without back aches.

2. Good posture requires constant vigilance. I suppose some people are born with good posture, but for me it is totally training-based. The minute I don't think about it, I slouch. Especially in a seat.

3. Unless I pay attention to my posture-correcting measures, I tend to over-correct, which looks ridiculous. Like a pigeon.

4. Practicing good posture got much easier over time as my posture muscles got stronger.

5. Improved posture was an excellent resolution. It is easy to measure, I could do it anywhere, and it improved my daily life.