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.