Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Things that make you go "hmm"

Top hit for Rachel's do-it-yourself Google search: "Help! I have a leaky bathtub faucet and a lazy husband!"

Yes. Yes, you do. Call a plumber.

Melissa after a "facts of life, 2 year old style" book: "You have baby in you tummy!"

No, Daddy's just fat.

I weighed myself. 190. Ouch.

(Although, for the record, she also claimed, "I have baby my tummy!")

Sunday, January 27, 2008


  • Bedtime is 8:00, or 7:30 if Mommy and Daddy are already tired. Melissa turns the light back on after being put down and plays until 10:00 or later. We are sort of okay with that (the exception is when she does not take a nap and is cranky all day); it appears that she just needs less sleep than Matthew. The funny part is that when she is ready to go to sleep she will turn off the light and get in bed. When Matthew stays up partying he goes until he drops, and we'll find him on the floor with the light still on.
  • Today we got to church late and the sacrament was already being passed, so we waited in the foyer, periodically reminding the kids (well, Melissa) to be quiet. Melissa must have thought it was a really long, really boring prayer. She got off my lap and urged me to "You wake [get] up now!" Not yet, I told her. A minute later she got up again and declared "Amen! You wake up now!"

What happens in Utah when the president of the Church dies

President Hinkley died at 7:00. We were finishing the first round of a game of Mag Blast at the cousin dinner Rachel was hosting when one of Laura's friends texted her with the news. That killed the game of Mag Blast, and pretty much the whole phone system in Utah. It's 8:40 now and Rachel still can't get through to call her sister.

Our younger, hipper guests were all texting instead. Texting uses several orders of magnitude less bandwidth than voice so that was going through fine. Some people experienced this after 9/11, too; if you're ever in an infrastructure crisis and need something to get through, send a text even if you're an old fart.

(This is why US companies have a real racket going charging extra for texting privileges. In fact, I've heard that in the Philippines texting was free until the government started taxing it. The cost to the carrier of texts is so small that this is actually plausible, and it does appear to have at least some basis in fact; I found an article online referring to free texting in the 90s, but I can't find anything authoritative about what changed.)

A week of health

Until this week, Rachel's had about five days total of feeling good since the beginning of December. She's caught every cold that came through our area, badly. I joked that she was a human petri dish; she didn't find that very amusing.

This week Rachel got all better. What a relief. I didn't realize how draining it was until it was over. Daddy is much less grumpy now.

Saturday, January 26, 2008


Melissa informed me that she wanted a robot, a dog robot, a pink dog robot. She explained that Matthew too would like a dog robot, only his should be blue. "For my birthday, I wanna pink dog robot!" Hmm. Not sure where to find one of those...

Wednesday morning Melissa woke up dry! We're hoping this repeats itself and someday turns into a trend.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dancing with Daddy

(Rachel posted about this briefly but I thought it deserves multiple paragraphs. :)

Often in the evenings I will turn up some music while I do dishes. This is the kids' chance to harass Daddy to dance with them. I find it particularly hard to refuse Melissa's outstretched arms and "You dance me, Da'yy [Daddy]?"

The problem is, Melissa doesn't like craning her neck back with a partner twice as tall as she is. Nor does she like me to get down on my knees to be closer to her level. So last night when a laundry basket was left within reach, she turned it upside down and climbed on it to be tall enough to dance with me as an equal. She was tickled to death with her cleverness.

Of course then Matthew was jealous and had to have a turn on top of the basket. I have to admit that I like dancing with Melissa better. Moshing with Matthew tires me out!

This morning I resisted the invitations to dance at first. So Melissa went downstairs and brought up a two-foot-deep plastic toy bin and did the same thing with it. "You dance me, Da'yy?" I acceded.

Sometimes she really does get disappointed though. Once Melissa got her church dress on Sunday morning, she proclaimed, "I ready dance!" Alas, we were running late, and church was not for dancing.

Although come to think of it I don't know exactly what she did in nursery later. It's quite possible she convinced the teacher to dance.

I Want My Grandma!

I was tucking Melissa back into her bed tonight when she told me, "I want my Gran'ma." "We'll see her someday soon..." I murmured. "I want Gran'ma come to Mama's house, see Lissa!"

Yeah, I'd like that too.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Snow, snow, everywhere!

It dumped over a foot of snow here this morning. The kids were delighted, naturally. "It's snowing! Wow! It's snowing! Hooray!!!" They went out to "help" Daddy shovel, out again to play, and Melissa and I went on an evening trudge through the stuff (her idea- "I go on walk w' you?"). Traffic was really poor. The plows couldn't keep up with the snowfall, so Jonathan stayed home today. Good thing too, there were quite a few accidents, and at the point of the mountain (where we are) was especially bad. Lots of injuries, but no fatalities, thankfully.

We finally saw a plow in our neighborhood around 6 PM. The improvement was rather marginal, though. Now we have 4-5 inches of packed snow & ice on the road.

The kids think all the snow is absolutely wonderful. I remember when I was a kid and loved the stuff too. I lived in Iowa then, and there was always plenty of snow in the winter. Oh what fun my sister and I had making caves, licking icicles, building snow creatures, and pulling each other in the sled! My Mom would have to make me come inside to warm up and dry out my mittens and clothes.

I guess I've just gotten old. It's a lot colder than I remember as a kid. Snow isn't nearly so fun anymore...

A new record

Matthew was "cleaning his room" all day Saturday, Sunday, and today, with breaks for meals, church, etc. He is still not done.

From the Peanut Gallery

Melissa's latest line whenever she gets a minor injury is to announce in plaintive tones, "I need to go see the doctor." or "I need to go to the hospital." She says this in such a mournful way, while sadly shaking her head. Injuries such as stubbed toes, little scratches, and bumped heads all require professional medical attention according to Melissa. Fortunately she will accept a kiss and a bandage instead. I'm guessing that this notion comes from the time Matthew gashed his toe open and needed stitches. She hasn't needed to see a doctor since the unfortunate Plant Incident (in July). Silly girl!

Matthew's Sunday school class still does not have a permanent teacher, so they have had a series of substitutes. Yesterday he told me that his eighteen year-old teacher was a grownup kid. "How so?" I asked. "Well, she's big like a grownup, but she doesn't have kids yet, so she's a grownup kid!"

A few weeks ago we visited some friends of ours for dinner. Melissa declared, "I want eggs! I want eggs!" over and over. What? We were scratching our heads until Jonathan figured out that she must have remembered that they went egg hunting there at Easter time. That was 8 months ago! What a memory that kid has!

Sunday, January 20, 2008

The Peanut holds forth on the cinema

Matthew: "Dad, kids don't like boring movies."

Me: "Sure. Adults don't like boring movies either."

Matthew: "Yes they do!"

[Dad and Mom laugh. Fortunately Matthew is not offended, deciding only to enlighten us.]

"Adults like movies where they just talk. Kids don't like that. Kids just like kids movies. Little girl movies, and big boy movies."

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

A Girl and Her Pig

Yesterday we went to the dentist. Melissa insisted on taking her beloved pig, Oink, along with her. In the excitement of picking out a treasure from the treasure chest, she forgot Oink. She didn't notice Oink missing until after the office had closed. Since she sleeps with her pig every night, bedtime was rather traumatic.

Today we went to pick up Oink FIRST thing. Melissa is a happy girl again.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Birds and the Bees

Matthew has just started asking about babies (quite a few of his friends have new baby siblings) and how babies get inside Mommies. We're not sure how much detail he's looking for, and since he's asked at inconvenient times such as right before sacrament meeting, we've managed to dodge the question. Daddy, chicken that he is, told Matthew to ask his Mother since supposedly I'm the expert. Ha! So it looks like we need to sit down with him and give him some basics.

In searching for a simple book to aid us, I ran across a German one that we probably won't be using....

The illustrations crack me up (especially the hearts on the car and the lego facial expressions), but it might be a bit much for Matthew.

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Originally uploaded by jbellis
Andrea gave Melissa a piggy bank when she came out a couple weeks ago.

Melissa LOVES that piggy bank. It makes a chime when you drop coins in, so every morning she begs two pennies from me and puts them in and takes them out, over and over. (Every night, she loses her pennies in her bedding doing this in the dark.)

Melissa named her piggy Oink. "Where my Oink?" "There my Oink!"

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Winning is all that matters

Rachel and I have tried to encourage Matthew to take losses with equnimity, with some success. But I don't think he really buys the "trying your best is what matters" thing.

Case in point: he's been winning a lot at Bomberman the last couple days. I knew something besides increased skill was involved; he's not that good. This morning I watched him play and he proudly showed me his secret:

Play 3 on 1.

He creates a team game with him and two computers vs one computer. Heh.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Ego surfing

I'm pleased to notice that I have retaken the #1 google hit for [Jonathan Ellis]. Some poser calling himself "Jonathan Ellis, spiritual director" managed to knock me off briefly when he bought the domain. Order has been restored.

True Love

Love is not chocolate and flowers (though those are nice).

Love is going to the store at 10 at night to purchase embarrassing personal products for your beloved. Without even being asked!

Thank you, Sweet Husband, for the Tucks pads.

Happy bottom!

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Daddy is an introvert

Rachel took the kids while I napped from 10-12. (I feel very lucky indeed that Matthew cleaned his room during this time.) I had the kids the rest of the day, before and after.

When I have the kids all day or nearly so, I'm usually feeling pretty frayed by the end. I feel like yelling, "Stop talking at me! Stop! I need some quiet!" Sometimes I do yell that. It doesn't make much difference either way. The stream of chatter will die down briefly; then, "Daddy, I need tell you someping." Or they will start fighting with each other which is almost as bad.

Today was a day that included a nap, so really it was a pretty easy day. And I still got to that point. Fortunately we were in the car on the way home when the last of my reserves left me, so I turned on some rock music. Sometimes that works; they seem to abhor silence, but if I fill the void with other, less demanding noise, they'll accept that. Sometimes.

On the one hand I feel like a terrible dad when I unravel like this. I've been thinking about that, trying to figure out how I get to that state. My patience is very binary -- either I'm fine or I'm completely out.

The more I think about it, the more I think it's because the kids simply don't give you time to just be by yourself. I realized years ago that I need time alone to recover from being "on" socially, and being "on" as Daddy takes a similar toll. As Jonathan Rauch explained,
Extroverts are energized by people, and wilt or fade when alone. They often seem bored by themselves, in both senses of the expression. Leave an extrovert alone for two minutes and he will reach for his cell phone. In contrast, after an hour or two of being socially "on," we introverts need to turn off and recharge. My own formula is roughly two hours alone for every hour of socializing. This isn't antisocial. It isn't a sign of depression. It does not call for medication. For introverts, to be alone with our thoughts is as restorative as sleeping, as nourishing as eating.
(If this sounds bizarre to you, you are an extrovert and you should read his whole article.)

Rachel is an introvert too. This is one reason Rachel is usually very glad to turn the kids over to me when I get home. She feels this relentless assault on her patience, too, although perhaps she is not quite as introverted as I. Or maybe she has just had more practice dealing with incessant five- and two-year old demands. Or most likely of all she is just a nicer person than I, which is one reason I married her.

This makes me think. I haven't read much about the just leave me alone for a minute feeling in parenting material. Is this something nobody wants to admit? Or do they all just have extraordinarily undemanding children? Or are they all extroverts and easily take it in stride?

Maybe I just haven't read the right books.

In the meantime, I think it helps to realize conciously why I sometimes suddenly feel so irrationally impatient with the kids. But reason only takes me so far -- it's like if you're hungry, knowing why you're hungry maybe be comforting at some level ("because I skipped lunch to get that fix in before the next build"), but that doesn't actually make you any less physically hungry, dammit.

I think I'll try taking regular "leave me alone" breaks for ten minutes or so, even when I still have patience reserves left.

Time to make the pancakes

Melissa was up at 4:30, probably because she was hungry. She wasn't interested in lunch or dinner yesterday. I told her to go back to sleep.

She was still up at 5:00, so I let her out ("I tum [come] out now") up and heated up some leftover pancakes, which she devoured. ("Pantakes!") Then I put her back to bed. (5:20.)

The light came on and I heard playing noises. Then the noises stopped. (6:00) Twenty minutes later I dared go in and transfer her to her bed. Then back to bed myself.