Monday, May 18, 2009

House Pictures

Some few of you have asked about The House.

Some pictures I lack, but such as I have, I will give.

I still don't have a good image of the Three-Baby Closet, though I keep waxing rhapsodical about it. In fact, my closets inspire not only rhapsodies, but also odes!

The entryway. Just imagine it
without the pictures on the walls.

Right: The living room.

One of the listing photos. The sellers took the couch, table, and painting, but left the entertainment center and curtains. Someday we'll have a snuggle-enabling couch again...after we've closed on the house...

I say this cheerfully. I'm so delighted to have the house, I don't mind waiting to buy a couch, a new car, the King's Castle lego set, new bookcases, a new dishwasher, water softener, and a host of other non-emergency items.

I bet I passed the "one cookie now or two cookies later" test as a kid!

The kitchen. Look at the height of those cabinets! (Says the girl who is 5'2".) Glad I'm no longer a freshman in college, when I looked first at my apartment's kitchen, and then at my 5'1" Chinese roommate and said, "One of us needs to get a tall boyfriend."

The laundry room/pantry. I can stand in one spot and rinse, stain treat, load the washer, and iron. (Of course, I never actually do iron, but Lillian Gilbreth would still have been proud. She rarely used her kitchen, either.) The pantry shelves are also marvelous for canned goods, and there are hooks for cake pans over the door...

Storage room. Most of the toiletries
I got free or almost free at CVS!

Library closet. Two tiers of shelves.
Bliss...Other than the 60-odd boxes
of books still waiting for attention.

Upstairs now to the master bedroom. Imagine the furniture gone but the decorations staying. I love the blue carpet. It fits into my "Napoleonic Wars-era merchant ship" decorating idea.

Guest bedroom, present day.
No longer doubled as a play room!
Visit with impunity!

Guest bathroom.
I love the decorations, which stayed.

Align Center
Play room. Two closets. Two!

Eric explores the backyard for the first time and discovers a natural balance beam. (He is obsessed with balance beams. A few weeks ago we went to dinner at the Bishop's house, and Eric started walking precariously around the edge of the pool...)

Enough room for boys to run real "climbing" trees, but some potential "tree house" ones.

I have been cranky about the lender lately. We had an appraisal dispute that made things icky. I am trying to count my blessings by reminding myself that, even if the bank is annoying, at least we're getting the house. And it's working! I feel so blessed, I almost feel guilty.

Did I mention the new house has twice--twice!!!--the square footage of the old one?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Mommiest Moments: April, 2009

Pillow Jousting.

Yes, Eric. You may imbibe with impunity.
--Mommy. I was getting tired of hearing “Is this my cup? The one with my name on it? Does this have any one else's germs on it...? Am I the only one with 'Eric' written on his cup?” (We were at a party.)

“...So the wicked monsters started to sabotage Eric's lego castle on the moon. Of course, they weren't well-educated wicked monsters, because it didn't occur to them that Eric was wearing a space suit and they weren't...”
--Mommy, at bedtime.

“...So the giant sand serpent, who was thankfully less aggressive than his cousins on Arakis, agreed to be the 'moat' monster for Eric's lunar castle, provided Eric kept his construction and repairs as a-rhythmic as possible...”
--Yet Another Incomparable Mommy Bedtime Story

Eric: Are the giant sand worms of Dune real?
Mommy: No, they're science fiction.
Eric: I mean, is that a real book?
Mommy: Oh. Yes.

“I have The Headache.”
--Gail. This was not a centuries-old euphemism; rather, it reflected my having stared at the ASL interpreters during General Conference for too long. Jon was very sweet and massaged my scalp.

“Mommy, I am very mad at you for putting me in my room. And your consequence is that for the rest of the day, I will not help you unpack boxes, no matter what!”
--Danny. This reminded me of the book No Hugs Till Saturday.
[Editorial note: He had thrown a whomping-willow-worthy tantrum. The punishment had been thoroughly justified.]

Mommy: Danny, do I want to be with my Danny-boy forever?
Danny: [nods]
Mommy: But do I want to live forever with a Danny-boy who throws temper tantrums?
Danny: [pause] Oh!
--Let us devoutly hope this was an “aha” moment which will lead to decreased misbehavior. A Mama can delude herself, right? For delusion leadeth to hope, and hope leadeth to patience, and patience leadeth to...further long-suffering.

Tech Support Lady: I see you have phone, security, and do you watch TV?
Gail: We don't watch much TV.
Tech Support Lady: Right, but I mean, like, do you have satellite or direct TV...?
Gail: We only have broadcast. We really don't watch much TV.
Tech Support Lady: Oh! Wow. [pause] But you know, that's good for the family. Oh, but I'm not supposed to say that...Can I interest you in cable service...?

[April 9th]
“Marian would have turned one today. One-year-olds are so cute....Maybe next year it will be easier. Next year I'll say, “She would have been two today. Two-year-olds are so hard.”

Danny: We need to make a bed for Bear.
Mommy: Oh? Did he have a growth spurt? Does he not fit in your bed anymore?
Danny: [smiling] No.
Mommy: Or is he getting too old...?
Danny: Yes. And he is big enough that he wants a bed that looks like mine.
Mommy: He wants a bunk bed? But there's only one of him.
Danny: No, I mean he doesn't need a railing.
Mommy: Oh! I see. He doesn't want a crib because he's not a baby.
Danny: Yes.
Mommy: Well, let's see if we can find a shoe box...
Eric: Why?
Mommy: We're making a bed for Bear because he doesn't want to sleep with Danny anymore.
Danny: No, Mommy, he doesn't need to sleep with me anymore.

Bear's new loft bed.

Gail: [Describing the above incident to Jon] Do you realize Danny has been leaving Bear home more and more often? Or leaving him in the car but forgetting to bring him inside? I take this as one more sign that he is outgrowing Bear. And it's kind of sad. I mean, it's appropriate and I wouldn't want him hauling around a security blanket when he's seven, but...he's growing up! [Wistful sniffle]
Jon: I think he and Bear are simply diverging in their interests. Danny is starting to think about girls and cars...

“...and these two black holes are fighting and trying to eat each other and they are generating enough energy to power two planets...”

“...and this is the iris. My super-stargate and it has two different systems of symbols and you select five of each and can go to my City I created...”

Danny: ...and I am opening the valve of this black hole because I am going to feed it.
Mommy: What does it eat?
Danny: Other tangrams like it's made out of.
--A cannibalistic black hole!!! But then, if you think about it, they generally are.

[Playing black box]
Mommy: [frustrated] I can't discern any kind of pattern. I give up!
Eric: The black box is outputting numbers at random.
Mommy: That's not fair, since you can't write that as an equation.
Eric: Yes I can. It's y = rand x.
Mommy: [mutters darkly, and then calls Jon] Oh dearest...did you teach our son...?
--I got even when I did a fibonnaci sequence. All too quickly, though, Eric realized he should input five zeros in a row. When he got different outputs each time, he caught on. Hmph.

[Playing black box again]
Mommy: y=x?
Eric: Nope.
--Turned out it was y=x in hexidecimal. Naturally.

Eric: What's an “orderly retreat?”
Mommy: Something far preferable to a rout.
--I ended up teaching an entire home school lesson about military tactics, using the castle and Papo figurines to stage a mock battle.

“But why can you no longer snuggle when you are 35?”
--Eric, wailing. Turns out he'd had a bad dream. I reassured him, of course, and then distracted him by sharing my recurring nightmare of realizing, abruptly, that I haven't been to a math class in two months and the final is looming...

Eric: [Explaining a creation out of tangrams] Babble. Babble, babble, babble...babble BABBLE babble, babble...Wait. Am I getting too complicated?
--I have passed a rule saying that if it's too complicated for me to understand, he has to write down the instructions/directions/explanation. This has effectively curbed the majority of his pontificating.

“I know about grown-ups because sometimes I throw a temper tantrum and then I get consequences and when I get more consequences I learn more about grown-ups!”
--Danny. We were role-reversing. I pretended to be the kid and threw a tantrum and then challenged him to do something about it. He handled it well. He hauled me—with Eric's help—into his room, and locked the door. After a few minutes, he came back in, hugged me, and said, “We still love you, but you're not allowed to throw tantrums.”

“We call this act 'The Veterinary Missionary.'”
--Mommy, announcing Danny at the ward talent show. He stood at the microphone and sang “Meow, meeeeow meow meow...” to the tune of “Called to Serve.” I wanted him to sing it an octave high (he could), because it's so impressive to hear him hit C''. He declined, but it was still adorable. And funny. He was a natural ham. Every week, he does something new that reminds me of me.

Mommy: ...but when the Lamanites invaded, King Noah told his priests to run away, abandoning their responsibilities, their country, and even their families.
Danny: Mommy! That was not an orderly retreat!

“The Holy Ghost is a big, mean bully!”
--Gail, getting to know the Bishop of the Leander Ward. I was answering the question, “Did you serve a mission...?” I said it again when he asked if I could play the piano. I had hoped to dodge that issue, but he told me he felt prompted to ask. Hmph.

Gail: Maybe I shouldn't have said that. It might adversely affect my chances of getting a teaching calling.
Jon: I think you're fine. He looked like he was trying not to laugh.

“Would you like to read Bear's biography?”
--Danny, offering it to almost any adult in sight. I am very flattered that he likes the book so much.

[This all started when Jon printed out an encoded Foxtrot cartoon for Eric to work on. It was a simple substitution algorithm, but you had to solve a math problem to decode each letter. A few of the unused letters (like Q and Z) involved radians or integration. Naturally, Eric wanted to solve for all the letters before deciphering the message. This meant that Jon tutored Eric in some new mathematical concepts.]

Mommy: [Rolling her eyes] You know it's traditional to teach sine, cosine, and tangent, starting in Geometry, using right triangles, right?
Jon: Yes, but I want to show Eric where it all comes from. [Proceeds to draw the trigonometric explanation of the unit circle.]
--I would have started with soh-cah-toa. But now I'm tempted to buy the t-shirt.

[One hour later]
Mommy: [skeptically] ...You realize it's traditional to teach differentiation before integration, right?
Jon: [serenely] Yes, but Eric asked about integration and I'm answering his question. Differentials just haven't come up yet.
Mommy: Well, you're a good math teacher. And you obviously get results. So you can do it however you like. But isn't integration beyond even Eric?
Jon: I'm just going to show him how to increment the exponent and divide by it.
Gail: [rolls her eyes sarcastically]
Jon: [engrossed in math and blissfully unaware of his wife's facial expressions, he proceeds to work the problem with Eric staring raptly.]
Mommy: [gapes in astonishment. Then hyperventilates. Then discreetly takes pictures] My baby...he's growing up so fast...I think I'm going to cry!
--Eric looked at me briefly in puzzlement. He got a look of “Mom is weird,” shrugged, and went back to his calculus problem.
--Also, my sarcastic eye roll was of the “Oh, is that all” variety. I got over being a Doubting Thomas long ago.

--My approach was more psychological. I looked at the comic and then at the spacing of the blanks and said, "Knowing Jason's character, I bet it says 'Paige Fox is bad at math.'" And so it proved. :)

“Wait! You taught Eric trigonometry and calculus in one day?”
--An exaggeration, I know. Eric can't solve the problems independently. He was fascinated with the concepts, though.

Pioneer Bear in Covered Wagon

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mommiest Moments: March, 2009

“If necessary, I will draft an official letter to the tooth fairy, explaining the circumstances and showing a picture of the gap in your mouth. Perhaps she would accept your appeal.”

--Mommy, to Eric. I am so impressed that Eric managed to lose his first tooth twice! (Fortunately, we found it before bedtime.)

----Okay, in fairness, the tooth came out and he immediately handed it to me. I put it in a ziploc bag and then my purse ate it. The first version sounds better, though.

Eric: George Washington had slaves?

Mommy: Yes.

Eric: Then how did he get elected President?

Mommy: Back then most voters didn't think it was a big deal. That doesn't make it right, of course, since slavery interferes with another person's agency and Heavenly Father--

Eric: [interrupting] So I think that if George Washington had run in the election we just had, he would not have been elected because he owned slaves.

Mommy: That's true. And if Mr. Obama had run back in the first presidential election, he wouldn't have been elected, either.

Eric: Why not?

--I love the innocence of youth. :)

Aunt Cheryl: We are moving the train table downstairs so your Mommy can build some train tracks for the party.

Danny: But the table will not be big enough!

--I appreciated his faith in me. I did, indeed, jump the confines of the table and take up half the living room.

The train set for P.'s birthday party. Danny and his cousin helped and added on to it.

“I was too busy interpreting to listen.”

--Gail. I visited my sister in South Bend and was drafted as an emergency interpreter. I didn't do all that well, but I did better than I expected! Two major hang-ups, though. First, the lesson was about pride. In ASL, “pride,” “courage,” and “strength” are the same sign. Arrrgh. Second, a standard hymn isn't bad, but “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” would be hard in any language. (How the heck do you sign “Teach me some melodious sonnet/Sung by flaming tongues above”? Maybe make a picture of “Heaven—angels—glory—song—teach me?”) That's my new ASL goal.

Eric: Does .999 equal 1?

Mommy: No.

Eric: But does .33 repeating equal 1/3

Mommy: [Absently] Yes.

Eric: So then .99 repeating should equal 1! I think that is a paradox.

Mommy: Clever. Very clever. And yes, that's a paradox. :)

“Shoo! Shoe! Sock! Boot! Oooh, I bet I could even say, “flat” or “heel.” But imagine saying “shoe” and then, “heel”

--I was hypocritically trying to hurry the children along whilst allowing myself to get distracted.

“I have determined that 5^10 times 2 = 19531250. Is that right?

--Eric. Of course, I had to use pencil and paper to replicate what he did in his head.

“And here are the pieces disassembled...”


Mommy: Patience and...? [suggestive silence]

Danny: [sighing] long-suffering...

[Droning monotone]

“Stay on target...stay on target...”

--Danny to Eric, who was distracted. It sounded exactly like that line from Star Wars.

“I love spring! It makes my allergies start!”

--Danny, cheerfully, while running around the park. He sounded exactly like Carolyn.

“I ambushed you!”


[Playing “black box analysis” game with Eric]

Eric: Oh no! I programmed my black box to add 1 to any input, but instead it's giving an output of zero no matter what! There is a bug in my program! And I hear strange noises! Quick, run away!

--He then clarified that his black box wasn't making the strange noises, it was the scary monsters attacking.

[A few minutes later]

Mommy: I grab the black box and hit the monsters over the head with it.

Eric: And suddenly it starts to work again! Except it is giving very random answers.

--Apparently, the “bang on the machine” principle works even for imaginary devices.

“And this mouth of the cup is the stargate and my tongue is the wormhole and my mouth is the other planet...”


Mommy: Tomorrow is pi day!

Eric: Why?

Mommy: Because it is March 14th! 3/14!

Eric: Oh! It is also Pi's birthday!

Mommy: We should celebrate! We should eat a pie at the birthday party.

Eric: And Euclid's birthday is the same--[pause as Eric reconsiders] is three-point-one-four days later!

Gail: ...I couldn't think of a way to depict “2585” in candles.

Jon: That's simple! Just code it in binary, with lit and unlit candles.

Gail: ...That's...brilliant.

--Unfortunately, it was already too late. 2,585 is as approximation of Pythagorus' age, anyway.

The Pi family, consisting of tiger cub Euclid [right], his father Pythagorus ("Pi") [middle], and step-mother Nannerl (a tabby cat) [left]. They celebrate both Pi day and Pi's birthday. March 14, 2009.

Mommy: I've always wondered what the allegory was for The Horse and His Boy. Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypt? The personal search for Christ?

Eric: What is it?

Mommy: I don't know. It's open to interpretation.

Eric: But why didn't the writer just say?

Mommy: Because, my own, if writers explained everything, there would be thousands of unemployed literature professors the world over.

E. P.: Your kids are so smart! So gifted! And so patient! And well-behaved! And sweet and cute...

--I flatter myself she was sincere. They really were good that evening. And she was amazing and helpful! Thanks!

[Ronald and Eric were playing “black box.”]

Eric: I input 5

Ronald: 25

Eric: 4

Ronald: 16

Eric: squares!

Ronald: Uh, right!

[Next round]

Eric: 3

Ronald: 27

Eric: 4

Ronald: 64

Eric: cubes!

Ronald: [looks surprised]

[Next round]

Eric: 3,164!

Ronald: [pause]

Gail: Would you like paper and a pencil?

Ronald: Yes.

Eric: Why is it taking so long?

Ronald: Because I have to do a lot of steps. Look, can you give me a smaller number?

Eric: 2,005

Ronald: [takes awhile] Still too large.

Eric: 1024

Ronald: [pause] 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2, 2.

Eric: ...Oh! I think it is the prime factors!

Ronald: [gapes]

“I have discovered there are multiple bridges!”


“Torture the kitty-cat...torture the kitty-cat...”

--Danny, singing. He was taking Nannerl (stuffed cat) and tying her to doorknobs by her tail. This is perfectly normal behavior for little boys, right? Please? I started to intervene, but Danny assured me that she liked it. I think Nannerl suffered enough in her prior incarnation as the daughter of Leopold Mozart, but I figured she would scratch or bite if she really objected.

“For my bedtime story, I want it to be about Pinky and the Brain trying to take over the world by driving everyone over with Bertie the Bus. And Bob the Builder and Handy Manny try to stop them, but they get run over, too...”

--It got even more creative, and violent, but I forget the details. I'm, um, happy that my boys are so masculine. Just in case anyone thought that because they were sweet they were somehow less interested in high-velocity impacts, explosions, violence, and gore.

"Ask an Engineer..." I asked Grandpa Homer for help with some tent poles. I had envisioned some kind of wooden dowel and a base. Grandpa whisked out this
solution, with materials on hand, in less than an hour [left]. The kids enjoyed the final product [right].

[Daniel screams. And screams. And SCREAMS. Piercingly. Gail whips out her phone and dials. After about ten seconds, she assumes Jon has picked up and heard the shrill shrieks.]

Gail: I know how much you miss us and want us to be together again. I just wanted to help you not miss us quite so much. Still in a hurry to to reunite?

Jon: You know, I could wait another week. Or two...

Gail: And once we do arrive, I will be happy to let you re-bond with the kids, without interference, while I take some Gail Time.

[Playing chess with Ronald whilst on sentry duty]

Ronald: Ahem. [Points to Danny lurking suspiciously]

Mommy: Daniel. Leave the lights off and the door open.

Danny: But I want the lights on and the door closed.

Mommy: No.

Danny: But I WANT the lights on and the door closed!

Mommy: I understand what you want, but my answer is still 'no.'

Danny: [crescendoing] No, I NEED the lights on and the door closed!

Mommy: 'And yet, I am unmoved.'

Danny: Mommy! If you don't let me, I will...I will take your book away!

--Fortunately, I had already finished the one he tackled.

Gail: ...And you'll never guess what amazing exhibit is at the childrens' museum right now!

Jon: Um...well, you like castles. And this is for kids, so it probably involves toys...legos? Castles made of legos?

Gail: I..but..How did you know?

Jon: I guessed.

Gail: Am I that predictable?

At the Childrens' Museum: Danny fires a catapult as part of a computer simulation. He designed a lego wall (on a computer) that was thick, curved, and inter-locked. He then pulled back on the catapult, aimed, and fired. His wall held successfully in the simulation. I congratulated his superior engineering skills!

“There is no Bishop in this version of Church.”

--Danny the Apostate, playing “church” by re-enacting Sacrament Meeting.

“This is like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, only reversed. The Lord has miraculously supplied extra mouths.”

--I complained about preparing too much food, and then the missionaries appeared on our doorstep.

I wasn't trying to hurt you; I was only trying to eat you.”

--Mommy, to Danny.

“And it is against the law for missionaries to be impolite!”

--Danny, interrupting a lecture about how he shouldn't complain about dinner, because once he's in the field...

“I don't like working with irrational numbers.”

--Eric, complaining about a math problem. Here he liked numbers because they, unlike people, are so orderly and predictable. I hope he survives this disillusionment.

Danny: [asks a question]

Mommy: Well, one example is...

Danny: Yes, Mommy, but what is the classic example?

Jon: I'm glad we're a family again.

Gail: We were always a family. But I'm glad we're in geographic proximity.

[They hug.]

--My thanks to Grandpa and Grandma Homer for housing us and then helping us reunite with Jon.

“My favorite part was the first few minutes exploring!”

--Eric, answering my question, “What's your favorite part of the new house?”

Above: Carrie's minaret, made at the Lego Castles exhibit.


[Left] Danny stares at a Lego castle with labels. I helped to point out salient features like the trap door and dungeon.

[Right] Eric and Danny pose next to the dragon. Yes, it is made entirely of legos. As I was holding the camera, there is no documentary evidence of my drool.