Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Grandma Hammond's Weapon

Several weeks ago we called my Grandma to say hello. We asked her about her time as a Marine in WWII. Victor had a specific question:

Victor: Did you use a gun?

Grandma, laughing: No, I didn't use a gun.

Victor: So what did you use? A sword? An arrow?

Grandma: I used a typewriter.

Zeke: That does not kill anyone.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I Swam the Length of Haw River

Today, I swam my final 55 laps in the Swim the Length of Haw River challenge at the Y. It took me 8 months to swim 110 miles. That's 3960 laps.

I enjoy swimming, but my fingernails are suffering from all of the water and chlorine.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Victor Chooses an Instrument

Yesterday, Victor sang in the Primary Program. His sudden show of musicality made me excited. After church I asked him:

Me: Victor, what instrument do you think you would like to play?

Victor, immediately: There is only one.

Me, interested: What's that?

Victor, very seriously: The harmonica.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

FHE: Goals

Last night we sat down for Family Home Evening. Jeremy asked Victor what gospel topic he would like to learn about.

Victor chose setting goals. Or as he put it, "writing down what you are bad at so you can improve." After the lesson, he insisted on giving each person a Rice Krispie treat, which has a blank space on the wrapper where you can write things. We then had to write our goal on the treat so we would see it tomorrow.

Victor's goal is to do a really, really good job mowing a lawn (no sharks). Zeke's goal is to get his green band in swimming at the pool (which would grant him access to all parts of the pool).

It was a good lesson, and the boys were enthused about it. But I'm not sure where they learned about goals or why goals are so attractive to them. I would have predicted the opposite.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

My Mother Dear

One of Zeke's favorite songs is "My Mother Dear." He likes to sing it to me. My favorite line is, "Like happy songs of bluebirds," just because of the way he says "bluebirds."

Tonight he sang it to me while he was going to bed, and for the first time ever he sang the last line: "A person bright and lovely is my mother dear."

Until tonight, I had been his "mudder dear."

Monday, September 30, 2013


Zeke got a Happy Meal on Saturday, with a Batman toy. He put in on an outside table while he ran into use the bathroom. When he got back, the toy was gone.

Zeke: Where's my Batman?

Jeremy: I don't know. Where did you leave it?

Zeke: On the table, but he's missing.

Jeremy: Hmm. I guess you'll have to look for it.

Zeke, sweeping his arm over the space on top of the table: He's not invisible . . .

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Victor Drives a Bus

Look to your right and you will see a picture of Victor driving a bus at age one. He is ecstatic.

Here he is now, age seven, and still thrilled to drive a bus.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Zeke's Secret Skill

I asked Zeke last week if he had told his teacher that he can read.

Me: Have you told Mrs. S that you can read?

Zeke: No.

Me: Why not?

Zeke, seriously: It is a secret. Just for our family.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Fun Mom Rents a Kayak

Jeremy had Monday off, and suggested we rent canoes.

I was very surprised. The last time we rented canoes was in 2000 or 2001, before we were married. My mom rented them for Pioneer Day or some other summer holiday, and we went to Payson Lakes with whichever of my siblings were not on missions, my cousins Greg and Ben, and probably a few of my sister Lizzy's friends.

Jeremy, not an avid canoer, was interested to learn that our family thought it was fun to paddle around the lake with no apparent destination. And that the goal was not to get across the lake as quickly as possible for lunch.

Our canoe adventure was not going well. Our canoe just didn't seem to move as sleekly as Greg and Ben's canoe, which shot through the water as if in a Boy Scout training video.

And then Jeremy became out of sorts. It is the only time my mother has ever seen him out of sorts, so she recalls it vividly. (Jeremy is rarely grouchy, grumpy, or out of sorts. He is very, very pleasant, even in the face of severe aggravation.) He said, "I give up! This canoe is broken!" And he laid down in the bottom of the canoe.

Our canoe was not, in fact, broken. It was merely weighed down by three other canoes that Greg had secretly tied to it. It was very funny, but left Jeremy without a taste for family canoeing.

So I was surprised that he wanted to take the boys out on the lake. After I remembered that I am fun and adventuresome, off we went. We rented a canoe for Jer and Zeke and a tandem kayak for me and Victor, and paddled around for about three hours. I had never paddled a kayak before, and enjoyed it. Victor was a surprisingly useful boat-mate. We landed on a little island and looked around, which the boys thought was marvelous. And I wore my knee brace and got an awesome tan line from it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Zeke Starts Kindergarten

Victor and Zeke started school on Wednesday. Here they are in their uniforms.

Zeke had this to say about his first day:

1. A girl forgot her lunch.

2. His class may only use the drinking fountain, which is in the classroom, at certain times of the day. (I can't remember what those times are, but he did.)

3. He will only tell me more if I go to Target and buy him a Transformer.

Victor said he had a good day. And that they learned some rules, which are about the same as the rules he had last year.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Fast Cars

Whenever Victor sees a fast car in a parking lot, he checks out the speedometer to know how fast it will go.

He has done this for years.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Victor's Talk on Prayer

Towards the end of Sacrament Meeting today, Victor leaned over and whispered, "Mom. I have to give a talk today."


I had known that two weeks ago, but I had forgotten. Fortunarely, I had told Victor about the talk and he had been thinking about it.

"Don't worry," he said, "I've been writing it in my mind."

So Victor and I reverently hightailed it out of Sacrament Meeting to transcribe his talk onto paper for easy delivery.

Here is it.


[Victor started with the following ad-lib:]

I want to start by asking you a question. How many of you are afraid of the dark?

[Hands went up, including Jeremy's.]

Okay. How many of you are afraid of roller coasters?

[More hands.]

Okay. Today my talk is about prayer.

[This is the written part.]

If we do not pray we will not get what we need.

If we do nto get what we need in an emergency, who knows what could happen to us.

Here's something wonderful about prayer: If you ask for something that is right you shall receive it.

You can pray anytime or anywhere.

For example, if the lights go out and it's really dark at night, and the power will be out for two days because of a snow storm--if you can't find your flashlight, you can pray to find it in the dark.

If you are nervous about something, like you are afraid of the dark, you can pray to Heavenly Father and He can help you not to be afraid.

Or if it is your first time on a roller coaster and you are really scared, you can pray to Heavenly Father, and he may tell you how it's gong to turn out.

[Now another ad-lib, from his original mind-talk, which I omitted from the transcription and he added back in:]

Now, that is not a promise. He may tell you, but I cannot promise because I have never tried it.

[Back to the written version.]

I know we can pray at any time or anywhere that we are.

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Utah Vacation

We went on an unexpected journey to Utah two weeks ago!

The purpose was to see our cousins.

This is a picture of some of the cousins: Zoie, Vea, Eliza, Alex, Zeke, Hailey, and Victor. I wish you could see all of their hair in this picture. You can exactly and easily match each child in this picture to his parents just by looking at his hair. Curly goes with curly, blond with blond, etc.

Shortly after this picture was taken, we hiked 1.5 miles (and 1000 ft UP) to Timanogas Cave. Aunt Katie and Grandma were very squeamish with the heights, but everyone made it there and back again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013


We have a classical radio station that plays a wonderful selection. Unfortunately, the reception is spotty.

While listening to this station the other day, Zeke asked me the other day what that weird sound was. I explained that it was static.

He cheerfully announced that he would pretend it was maracas instead. So now, when I listen to my static-filled Mozart et al., I pretend that someone has simply added maracas.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Swim the Haw River

I hurt my knee running back in April. I was up to 20 miles a week, so the injury was pretty disappointing. Nothing cracked or popped or broke; it's cartilage damage from my kneecap tracking to the outside (tight IT band, weak VMO) (the VMO is a muscle, I've learned). I've been doing PT for a few weeks, and it's getting much better.

But I still can't run on it, and it has been hurt since April.

Fortunately, in April, I had just joined the Y. (Finally--I had wanted to for years.) That meant I could swim instead of run.

It was fun to back in the pool. It had been years since I'd swum laps. I found an old Speedo in a drawer, got a new cap and goggles, and joined the oldsters for some fun lap swimming.

After two months, the pool director told me about their Swim the Haw River challenge. Every time you swim, you can log your laps on a chart on the bulletin board. If you swim the equivalent of the length of the Haw River by December 31, you are in a drawing for three free months of Y membership.

That means 3960 laps by the end of December. I got a late start, but as of today I have 1512 done. That leaves 2448 to go, or an average of 100.4 laps per week until the end of the year. It's very doable. I usually do 120-150 a week, which will leave me some wiggle room.

I break up the pattern I swim in. Sometimes I swim sets of 500 (yards--which is 10 laps), sometimes I do sets of 100 while alternating strokes, and sometimes I swim faster or slower.

The one thing I don't do is kick board, because of my knee.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Victor Mows in Straight Lines

Victor mowed the lawn this morning.

He moved things out of the way, got out the mower, and started it. My part was to fill the mower with gas. That's a mom job.

It was his fourth time mowing, but it was the first time he mowed in straight lines! Not surprisingly, it took less time and resulted in fewer mohawks.

So I gave him a raise.

Well, done, Victor.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Moms Don't Always Get What They Want

After dinner today, I asked Victor to get me fun pop. (That's a half-size otter pop.)

Me: Victor, would you please get me a fun pop? Red, pink, or yellow, please.

Victor got me a purple fun pop.

Me: Red, pink, or yellow, please.

Victor, sing-song: "You get what you get and you don't . . . "

Me: I'm the mom and I get what I like!

Victor, whispering in my ear, as if breaking bad news: Except a new car.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Victor Mows the Lawn

A few weeks ago, when I went out to mow the lawn, Victor said he wanted to help.

What he really wanted to do was mow the lawn himself.

Being in charge of the lawn mower was very exciting for him. He loves machines.

He also enjoyed mowing in his own pattern.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

I Flood the Kitchen Again

Yesterday, I flooded the kitchen again.

It was the same thing: leaving the faucet on to fill the Brita.

It wasn't as bad as the first time--I didn't need the shop vac to clean it up--but it still made a mess.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I Flood the Kitchen

Yesterday, I went to fetch the boys from the neighbors' house.

The boys rode their bikes home and arrived before I did.

When I got there, they were ecstatic. Because there was water all over the kitchen: running off the counters, pooling on the floor. Leaking out the back door. Apparently, that's fun!

I had left the faucet running in the Brita pitcher, and it had, of course, overflowed. I guess my audio book was so engrossing that I hadn't noticed my mistake.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Homework Word Search

I really hate homework.

I don't think there is any point.

So when Victor chose to do his spelling word search homework like this, I didn't mind.

(Look how he "found" the word "think.")

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Victor's Parenting Tip

Yesterday afternoon, Zeke got very upset about something I wouldn't let him do or have. Or maybe it was something I wanted him to do or get. Either way, he was upset.

About ten minutes later, Victor came to me with the following advice:

"If you don't give a youngster what he wants, it will only increase how easy it is to make him mad."

Monday, April 15, 2013

Captain Bunny of the Seven Seas

Because I'm super fun, I asked Victor to make the ears for the Bunny Cake this Easter.

He made them last year, too, and they were very traditional ears.

But this year, he branched out a bit. He made ears and a hat.

And a sign.

Behold: Captain Bunny of the Seven Seas!

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Grandpa Hammond: TV Star

A month or two ago, my Grandpa Hammond was watching American Experience on PBS.

The program was about Silicon Valley, and there was a part about the rocket tests conducted by the military after World War II. Grandpa was interested in this subject because he used to launch those rockets.

As he watched the program, he saw a film of a young officer launching a rocket and then leaning forward to look out the window to confirm the launch.

"Hey!" said Grandpa, "I think that was me!"

Sure enough, it was. Grandpa was on TV!

This photo is a screen shot from the program. The video of Grandpa was a good choice: he looks intelligent and focused, which I think accurately represents the attitude and professionalism of the people who conducted the tests.

As an interesting note, one of the rocket launch test sites where Grandpa worked is located in California and can be seen from Jeremy's family's house.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Telling Time

One thing I am not good at is telling time on an analog clock.

I never learned to do it properly, and I used to shrink in fear in school that someone would ask me and I wouldn't know. I remember the day we learned to say the time in French when I was in seventh grade--I sat there staring at the clock, terrified that Mr. Gregoire would call on me.

I am better at it now, but it still takes me a few seconds to figure out. And I still get it wrong.

For example, yesterday at Costco I dropped off a printer cartridge to be refilled at the photo desk.

The clerk told me it would be ready in an hour.

I looked at the clock on the wall.

Me: So it will be ready at 2:10?

Clerk, speaking slowly: No. 2:10 is in 20 minutes.

Me, staring desperately at the clock: Oh. Of course. Duh. 2:50!

Clerk: Yeah.

I felt pretty dumb.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Snip Snip

At 8:30 p.m. on Saturday I looked at my freshly shampooed Zeke.

Me: Zeke. What is up with your hair?

I ran my fingers through his hair and shreiked.

Me: Zeke! What have you done!

Victor: I think he cut his hair with scissors.

At 8:40 p.m. on Saturday, Jeremy had the clippers out and Zeke was getting his first ever buzz cut. It's a short 3 on top and a 1 on the sides and back.

At 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Zeke was insisting we call him Soldier during lunch.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Zeke Wins

On Sunday, we decided to have hot cocoa for dessert. Each boy was told that he needed to eat some chicken and some peas during dinner if he wanted dessert.

Victor complied. He likes chicken and peas.

Zeke ate the chicken, but complained that his peas had sauce on them, and were therefore inedible.

I encouraged him to eat his peas anyway. He ate two forkfuls, thus earning his dessert.

He then promptly vomited up his entire dinner into his lap.

He wasn't sick. It was just too gross for him to eat. I was disgusted/baffled. Jeremy said he used to do the same thing as a kid when food was too gross to eat.

So Zeke won. He vomited his food and got his cocoa anyway because it didn't seem fair to withhold it for involuntary vomiting.

And now I know vomit at the table is a real possibility if Zeke thinks food is gross.

Point to Zeke. Zeke wins.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Week 2 Challenge

Last week's wild card challenge in my new year's challenge was to reconnect with someone via phone or in-person visit for 15 minutes a day.

I didn't do it.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Day 4 of Creativity

Thursday was day 4 of creativity. I decided that my creative efforts that day would be channeled into my dance class.

Specifically, I would try to be more creative and less inhibited in my expressions, arms, movement, etc. If our teacher said to "pose," I would think of a pose instead of asking her to just assign one to me (which is my usual practice; what is more embarrassing than producing a pose of one's own?).

Lucky for me, there was no "pose" in class that night. But I did make an effort to be more creative and artistic. That was fun, but the real highlight of the class was finally getting a tricky piece of the choreography we've been working on for a couple of weeks. It's fast, and the hardest bit has to fit in one and a half counts. And now I can do it!

The other big even of the class was the departure of the last of the three novice tappers who joined our class in September. Every year, new people join our class. And every year, they all drop out after Thanksgiving.

This year, one person made it until the first class after Christmas--a new record! But she quit and now our class is back to me and my two friends. I'm pleased, because now our teacher doesn't have to split her time between us and the beginners. We can just get on with the fun stuff!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Days 3, 5, and 6 of Creativity

To be creative on Wednesday and Friday I spent time working on my columns for Nauvoo Times.

Writing a weekly column is more time consuming than I had expected. I usually spend lots of time thinking about it, and lots of time writing it on Monday and Tuesday. This week, I put in more writing time on Thursday and Friday, and I hope it will make for a not-so-late night next Monday and Tuesday.

Some questions are easier to answer than others. The column about tardy thank-you notes flew out of my brain in half an hour. The column about a husband who watches too much TV took months of writing, re-writing, re-thinking, and adjusting.

Jeremy is my sounding board/editor. When a column is reasonably far along, I read it to him, and then ask what I have missed. He is very helpful. The process helps me identify assumptions I have made that need to be explained or defended instead of assumed.

Sometimes, I consult people with expertise or experience in the topic of my column. I might need to verify points of Church procedure, for example, or talk to a parent of teenagers.

Most of the columns so far have been questions from family and friends. Thank you to my question-askers! The column would be very boring if I had to make up imaginary problems on which to offer advice. It would also be pointless to give advice to imaginary people.

Excitingly, I have started getting questions from readers I don't know. It gives me a little thrill to see a Nauvoo Times Submission Form email in my inbox.

It can take a long time for a question to go from asked to answered. If you have sent me a question, I am working on it!

Please send more questions! Be sure to include plenty of detail. I will disguise the details, if you wish.

Finally, on Day 6 of Creativity, I wrote this blog post.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Day 2 of Creativity

For my creativity point yesterday, I spend a good deal of time at the piano. Since I had to accompany the choir last night, and I needed to learn the piece, it was multitasking at its best: work that is fun.

Victor is learning about Mozart in school right now. Mozart is my favorite composer to play on the piano, so I played a little for him. And I let him listen to the overture to The Marriage of Figaro at the table. It was a little peppy for dinner, but very enjoyable.

He is also learning about the various families of instruments. So about two weeks ago, at his request, I got out my french horn to play for him and Zeke.

I hadn't played it in years. The valves were sluggish. I have no chops. But my fingers remembered the scales, and I felt like a piece of my soul had been returned to me. That might sound dramatic, but I spent a LOT of time with that horn in my high school and college years, and I loved playing it, especially when I transitioned from band to orchestra in college.

Music--piano, horn, singing--went missing from my life during law school and law practice, but it started to pick up again after Victor was born. I had to re-learn piano after chemo and its accompanying neuropathy. But now I play for enjoyment, and I play for the choir sometimes, and I accompany soloists at church.

My playing is even improving! I get less nervous, and I can learn pieces faster. I still don't play as well as I used to, but what I do play is enjoyable and useful.

I would like to play in an orchestra again, but the only one I know of is at a local church, and they perform every Sunday morning. That's a no go. But maybe I'll find something once Zeke is in school.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Creativity Challenge

I am participating in a 12-week new-year challenge. I get points for doing a variety of healthful things, including a weekly wild card.

This week's wild card is to spend 30 minutes a day doing something creative.


It's not that I'm an un-creative person. I like to create order, for example. And I like to transform dirty, wrinkled clothes into clean, unwrinkled clothes. But I don't think that's what the challenge has in mind.

I like doing crafts twice a year at Relief Society and annually after Thanksgiving. It's fun to use my hands to make things when someone else has assembled the materials and the mess is not in my house.

Also, I like music. I think practicing the piano is creative.

Cooking can be creative. I got my creative point today by making a new recipe for dinner. To emphasize the creativity factor, I altered two ingredients.

And writing my advice column is creative, as is blogging.

But creativity, to me, is something that comes after the work is done. And somehow, the work never seems done.