Thursday, February 28, 2008

Close but no cigar

I'm not interested in paying the SUV premium (up front or the poor gas mileage), so I'm semi-resigned to having a minivan soon.

But then it occurred to me -- Porsche Cayenne! That, I'm willing to pay the premium for.

Sadly, Rachel informed me that our next car has to be able to accomodate four kids.

And just like that, the dream was out of reach.


"Mom do dogs lay eggs?"
Seeing that our son needed a little more education on mammal birth, I did what any parent in 2008 would do: I turned to YouTube. So this morning we watched puppies being born. Matthew and Melissa were enthralled. "See the puppy coming out of the puppy hole?" "Wow! cool! Puppies are so cute." Matthew wanted to know all about the amniotic sac and waters, the cord, why the mothers' licked the puppies, how the puppies knew when to come out, question after question. He was very impressed. Melissa mostly liked seeing the "baby doggies."

High Praise
We made sugar cookies today. When I finished mixing the dough, Melissa started jumping up and down. She used the same tone we used to praise her for potty-training, "Yea Mama! You DID it! You make cookies. Good Job, Mama!" I cracked up.

The 'A' says Ahh
Matthew has some phonics videos that he watches occasionally. He's pretty much mastered the sounds of the alphabet. Melissa has been absorbing some of the sounds along with him. Today she was chanting "the 'a' says 'ahhh!'" while running through the house.
(Why is it our children run instead of walk?)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Everyman 5

Yesterday I got up at 3 and could not stay awake. I pretty much dozed until 6:30, when the kids got up. Ouch.

I guess I'll try 4:30 of core sleep for a few days and see how that goes. This morning is great, probably my best (early) morning yet. At almost 6h of sleep total, I don't think this schedule will be worth the inconvenience long-term. But if it helps me adapt with less mornings like yesterday then I'm okay with it temporarily.

My top priority is to stay as close to 100% as possible during normal waking hours, which might make the adaptation period longer but will keep Rachel (and my boss) happy. So far that much has gone well.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

It's official

Rachel is scoping out reviews of transportation that can fit three children comfortably.  You know what that means.

Just to be sure, I ran a search and for the record, nobody makes a minivan with a V8.

Now I understand why all those 40something guys buy sports cars.  They're making up for ten years of driving a lawn mower.

Metroid Mania

Matthew has been as enthralled by Super Metroid (the SNES title, emulated on our Wii) as he's been by anything. Every night when I get home he tells me about the secrets he discovered or the bad guys he defeated that day.

He's gone through phases with other games before so I didn't think this was worth posting about, but tonight he took things to a new level.

He and Rachel couldn't figure out how to get to some secret area, so Rachel looked up a speed run on youtube. Matthew was fascinated. He and Melissa kept crowding Rachel away from her laptop.

So I put it up on the big screen with the ps3 browser. Matthew is glued to the tube. He's going to have to go to bed without finishing it in half an hour, and I think only the promise (and threat!) of being able to finish it tomorrow if he is good will get him in bed without earth-shaking tantrums.

Visiting the Midlady

(In Matthew-speak) Yesterday I had prenatal appointment the midwife. I always like going. It is a bit of a milestone marker for me. Now the baby is past 12 weeks, now 16 etc. Plus the visits are laid back with plenty of time to chat and listen to the baby. Last visit I didn't bring the crew and the midwife seemed somewhat disappointed that I'd left them behind. This time I brought them with, but with some trepidation. A few weeks before I tried to bring them to a LLL meeting and was absolutely mortified by their behavior. (We left early). I am happy to report that they mostly did pretty well. Matthew was good, Melissa was a little bit cranky (I think she is still recovering from lack of sleep). The midwife's office is well equipped for kids though. She has legos, puppets, videos, and all kinds of toys for little people.

I debated all the way there whether I wanted to listen with the doppler. Last time I really wanted to hear the little one because I had several occasions of spotting and had been so sick in December. Baby's heartbeat wasn't being picked up by the doppler at 12+ weeks, so the midwife did a quick ultrasound, and there he or she was! Very cool to see. This time I thought, well, I know there is definitely a baby there, and since I'm a low tech gal, maybe we don't need to listen with the doppler. (I try to limit my little ones' exposure from all kinds of things unless strictly necessary). However, we got there and I decided that I still really, really wanted to hear the heartbeat. I'm a sucker for the little hoof beat galloping sound. It's very reassuring, and fun to listen to too. :) Probably when I can feel baby rolling and kicking around it won't be such an issue. Plus later on a fetoscope can be used if I so desire. Melissa laid next to me on the exam table during this. She lifted up her shirt for the midwife to feel the "baby" in her tummy.

Speaking of Melissa, she has put in her vote for a "pink" baby sister. Matthew on the other hand really wants a baby brother because "sisters are trouble."

The baby is growing. I am growing. Eek! My body takes the Costco approach to pregnancy: better pick up an extra 10 gallons of olives, ya never know when you'll need them!

At any rate the lab results all came back great, I am healthy, babe appears to be healthy.

Christmas in February

This last Christmas friends of ours gave us the gift of the symphony (any one that we wanted to see) and babysitting. WOW! A date with Jonathan! Alone. Without kids. ;) We took them up on it last weekend.

On Saturday I told Matthew and Melissa that Ellis and Merri were coming over to play with them. They were thrilled. Matthew started running through the house (with Melissa tailing him) shouting "Uncle Ellis and Aunt Merri are coming! Hooray!!" Matthew has known Ellis since he was a baby. Ellis and Grant would come over regularly and Matthew just assumed that Ellis was part of the family too. And Ellis and Merri are...just not biologically. :)

An early picture of Matthew and Uncle Ellis:

Ellis, Merri, and baby Kevin showed up and Matthew let me know that he wanted to be the one to open the door. So he did. We left without so much as a "bye mom and dad." They were already too busy playing.

Anyways we took off on our date secure in the knowledge that the kids would have a Good Time. We saw Peer Gynt performed by the Utah Symphony and Chorus. I've only heard bits and pieces of it and it was marvelous to hear the whole thing. Well, mostly marvelous. Jonathan said, "I don't understand. Grieg wrote music for the gods, just absolutely divine pieces; and then he has stuff that sounds like he was putting filler in for a deadline. What gives? Same composer, same piece, what the heck?" Mostly it was really fantastic though. The narrator was brilliant and really brought life into the character Peer Gynt. I certainly enjoyed it and I think Jonathan did too.

The kids sure had a lot fun. We came home around 10 pm and they were still reading bedtime stories. What great night! Matthew told me a little about the fun things they did the next morning and ended it with, "and baby Kevin was sure cute!"

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Everyman report 4

I'm still not as alert in the wee hours of the morning as I'd like to be. This is normal for this stage in the adaptation from what I have read, but if there's a way to speed that up I'm all for it. So I tried the suggestion of one of the google Polyphasic group members, to try sleeping less at night, for three hours intead of four:

I've also noticed that you're taking a 4 hour core sleep. It seems that sleeping in 90 minute chunks is recommended (ex. 1.5 hours, 3 hours or 4.5 hours). It is said that waking up between these 90 minute intervals will likely involve sleep inertia (desire to continue to sleep). I am still fuzzy for about half an hour after my core sleep, and I think it's mostly because of the time.
Those of you whose gut reaction is, "Sleeping less to feel more alert? That's insane!" can pat yourselves on the back. Of course, it's possible that me trying this coincided with my body just deciding to not cooperate anymore, but for the last two early mornings I had to take a lot of extra sleep to not be completely wasted the rest of the day. That was not pleasant. So, I'm going to go back to four hours and see if I can pick up where I left off. (Trying 4.5 hours is also an option, but I'm trying to be methodical about this: if going back to 4 "fixes" things, then great, 3 hours really was the culprit for feeling like crap the last two mornings. If not then there must be another factor.)

One other thing that might be interesting about this experiment: napping during the day is different from normal naps, at least for me. I dream during these naps, for one thing (which polyphasic people say is a sign the body is adapting -- normally, you won't dream in the first 20 minutes of sleep), but the strange thing is for the first part of the dream I'm still aware of my real, non-dream body, and I'm not entirely assimilated into the dream -- I can think, "Oh, hey, I'm starting to dream. Must be mostly asleep now."

Lucid dreaming is another thing I've been curious about for a while, so I thought this was interesting. Not enough to actively pursue it, but interesting all the same.

Stupid DMV

Drove to one "one the spot" emissions-safety-and-registration service place today. They were closed on Saturday. Drove to another. They informed me that my windows were tinted 7% too dark and I would have to get that fixed first.

I'd get all indignant about lawmakers with so much time on their hands they can bother passing laws against how dark my windows can be, but after reading how in the UK, you can't legally pay for your own medical care if the government system declines to pay it for you (to all the family pedants: yes, I realize it's a little more complex than that, but only a little), I don't have the energy.

USA: not as fubarred as the UK. Yet.

What a great motto.

Things that don't seem to happen when Mommy watches the kids

I let Matthew make his own oatmeal this morning. He thinks he can do it all by himself. In practice this has meant "Daddy does almost everything," but Matthew insisted on another chance. I gave in.

He came pretty close, I'll give him that. Bowl? Check. Oats? Check. Microwave? Check. No spoon in the bowl while microwaving? Check check check.


What's that burning smell?

So if you were curious, Matthew has saved you the trouble of checking for yourself: microwaving oats with no milk or water will burn the oats and it will smell nasty -- like burned popcorn, only it doesn't dissipate as quickly. It's four hours later and still stinky in the whole upstairs.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Everyman report 3

So far so good. Yesterday my mind was about 90% and I functioned fine at work. All the offices have windows but there is one room that is either a huge closet or a really small office that does not and is great for napping. No ambient light makes sleeping that much easier. The hard floor is uncomfortable, though; I might make a trip to wal-mart to get an air mattress. (We have a couch that the others sometimes nap on, but it is in a lighted area, so I think I'd rather go with the closet and the air mattress.)

The 11 PM to 4 AM block of time has been hard. Two nights ago I tried adding a second nap at 2 AM, which helped a little but I was still mostly a zombie. So I was thinking about switching back to an 11-3 core block of sleep, and last night when I woke up after my 11:00 nap feeling groggy again I decided yeah, that sounds pretty good, and went back to sleep. Right now [4:30 AM] my mind is probably around 70%; not great, but I've done a little programming successfully already, which is a lot more than I could have accomplished from 11-4 two nights running. I expect I'll be in better shape after my 7:00 nap.

My co-workers took my naps in stride yesterday. (We were one of a handful of companies that didn't get presidents' day off. The parking lot made it clear that we were in a very small minority.) It turns out Gary did something even weirder in his college days: he tried a sleep schedule that essentially put him on a 28-hour "day," so his sleep time shifted around constantly compared to everyone else. That makes my schedule sound normal.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

A letter from Matthew

Dear Uncle Chris,

In preschool we passed out treats in sharing time. Because it was Valentine's!

I played with Emma and Nick at the bouncy place and Madeline and Melissa were there too. I went in with something with a hole and there is a rectangle with a hole for kids to climb in and a rope and kids can slide down. There was also a castle with bumpy slides. I played boxing with Emma. I was the toughest. We went in a SpongeBob one too, that one was silly.

Melissa cut off her hair a little bit in the front. My Dad left out the scissors and Melissa found them.

How you doing, Uncle Chris?

There is Metroid on the Wii, it's SUPER COOL! I found the ball, then the bombs, then the high jump, and missiles.


Generation gap

Rachel was on a cleaning rampage. She found a box of odds and ends that I think has moved with us, unexamined, since our first house together.

Matthew was interested in the contents.

"What's this?"

"That's your dad's old camera."

"Why doesn't it have a screen?"

"It's a film camera."

"What's film?"

Everyman report

I mis-set my alarm last night and instead of taking a 20 minute nap at 11, I slept for 3 hours. So I called that my core sleep for the day. I felt pretty groggy until my 7:00 nap, after which I felt pretty good, around 90% mental capacity. Didn't really feel sleep deprived all day; naps at 12 and 5.

Now I'm proceeding with my original plan, having core sleep from 3 or 4 until the kids wake me up around seven. This appeals to me because I like waking up next to Rachel, and she doesn't want me in the room with her if my alarm is going to go off.

So I napped at 11 and now I'm holding out until 3 before going down for core sleep. I was okay for a bit but now I have to say I'm pretty wasted. Mental capacity: 40%? I did some light programming earlier after Rachel went to bed (I optimized my xml-based template generator by adding a pre-processing phase that cuts the amount of evals during the main phase by half -- see, I told you a few blog entries ago that when I work on a project that I can take pictures of, I have to jump at it because most of my work is just that... interesting) but now my brain is stuffed with cotton. I think I will watch some starcraft videos.

(What, you didn't know you can download videos of Korean professional starcraft matches from the comfort of your own sofa? Ha.)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Everyman day 1

I'm trying something that I freely admit is a little bizarre: the everyman sleep schedule. Rachel is skeptical but I've read enough anecdotal evidence to think it's worth trying. A sustainable extra 3-4h per day would be pretty awesome. And if this actually works for me, Rachel will be pleased by the side effects -- virtually everyone agrees that a healthy diet is required to make this work.

I've wanted to try this for a while now and with my sleep schedule whacked out anyway from the all-nighter Thursday, I figure maybe this will be an easier time than most to adjust. Or maybe it won't. Nobody really knows. :)

Since Wednesday night I've slept about 8 hours. So far I feel fine, although I can tell my mind isn't up to anything challenging, like thinking about multithreaded state. I realized a long time ago that this kind of reasoning suffers a lot more for me than the verbal part of my mind when I'm short on sleep. Supposedly it takes a week or longer to go from being merely sleep deprived to adapted.

Also I feel colder than usual. Perhaps my metabolism is slowing. If I am still doing this Monday, I will hit the gym when it opens at 5:30. On Saturday it is closed at 7, at which point the kids will be up. Maybe I will take them with me today a bit later.

[written at 6 AM but blogger didn't post it then]

Friday, February 15, 2008

I just discovered the world's best snack food

I felt like cheese and crackers tonight. Everyone else was having Goodwood leftovers.

The pulled pork looked tasty, so I tried some with my extra sharp cheddar and wheat thins.


I think I would rather eat more of these than the ice cream cake Rachel got.

I also think I need to do the math on how much pulled pork I would have to buy before it would be cheaper to just get a smoker myself.


My parents (mostly my mom; my dad like his job at NJIT) have been talking about moving to Utah for a couple years. Rachel and I would really like our kids to spend some time near at least one set of their grandparents; I never really got to know mine before they died, and I'm a little jealous of all Rachel's childhood memories of hers.

"So, do you think Mom and Dad will move to Utah in the next five years?"

"I don't know. It could be like 'Well, we want to, once Christine finishes her degree.' 'But Mom, she's on her second doctorate!'"

Feeling a little loopy

I've been working on the Rosetta project at work non-stop for about ten days now. Non-stop means a couple hours off nightly for dinner and playing with the kids. The rest of the time is working on Rosetta. Last night we capped it off by working straight through until 7 AM to get things read for our 8:00 demo. I went home and had dinner as described in the previous post, then went back to work after Rachel's orchestra time.

Most of my career has been working on back-end systems so I'm going to take advantage of having a project I can take screenshots of and explain what I've been working on.

Rosetta, as you can guess from its name, translates the unintelligible. In the screen shot -- click on it for a larger view -- you see two panels. In the left there is a textarea labled "Raw view." This is an ancient COBOL system that we're dragging kicking and screaming into a more modern UI. On the right is the modern UI, translated by Rosetta. (Actually, that is the ugly "development" UI, for the demo we sexed it up with chrome designed by a professional. But that code is in another branch and only runs on Windows, and I'm not motivated enough to fire up a VM to take screenshots.)

Rosetta does its magic through a combination of sophisticated reasoning about the raw area, and manually added hints. The rest of the left pane in the screen shot is the "hint editor." To a first approximation, I wrote the hint editor and the layout engine; Gary wrote the low layer that turns the COBOL system's customized vt100 dialect into the raw area and makes the first stab at deciding what it represents.

For an example of the manual hinting -- you can see in the screenshot that there is a table labled Days/Times. The first column is MTWTFSS -- and so is the fourth. The second and third columns are also repeated. The COBOL system does this because it's the only way they can cram the information into 80 by 24 characters, but in a modern UI you'd never do that. So on the right you can see that instead of four rows and 6 columns, we cut it apart and put it back together into the logical 8 rows and 3 columns. This takes less time to add in the hint editor than it took you to read about it here. (I probably don't need to mention that I didn't bother making the hint editor pretty. The user of the system will never see it.)

Ten days and two developers is a very aggressive schedule for this. We had to handle wildly different screen layouts, break some into pop-up dialogs, and make it not look like ass, with just the existing text to go on. At the demo this morning, you could tell that our co-workers in New Jersey were impressed. (A couple of them don't have personalities that let them admit this easily. But it was there even for them.)

There's actually a bit of a back story here. There's a faction in the larger company that prefers to develop software by throwing masses of junior developers at it. There are positive aspects of doing this, especially from a management perspective, but there are also drawbacks. Rosetta was our first semi-autonomous project to sell them on the concept of small numbers of highly skilled developers could do.

We hit it out of the park.

Valentine's day surprise

We moved the Python user group to Wednesday to accomodate Valentine's Day. Rachel's orchestra was not so flexible. So I left work expecting to take the kids to Burger King (and work on the wifi -- more on that subject in a bit) while Rachel led the viola section as usual on Thursday.

I was still in the dark when I noticed that it smelled nice and there was a styrofoam box on the top of the oven, with garlic bread and barbecue sauce. "Oh, Goodwood leftovers! Nice."

Nobody ever accused guys of picking up on hints too quickly.

"No," Rachel explained, and opened the oven to show me the rows of Goodwood barbecue staying warm for dinner. And she even had not-from-concentrate lemonade. What a nice surprise. I had not tried the Goodwood prime rib before. (Do I need to write that it was fantastic? It was.)

What a thoughtful woman.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Just the Facts, Mom

We were running errands, and out of the blue Matthew pipes up from the back seat, "So tell me all about babies, Mom."

Me: Sure. What do you want to know?

Matthew: Everything.

Me: Do you have any questions in particular?

Matthew: No, just tell me everything.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

First Major Dentist Visit

Okay, not the first visit for Melissa. There was that time when she was one year old and bumped her mouth on the wooden horse. She ended up losing a good chunk of her gum and we were worried about her tooth. (Did I write about this?) Anyways, everything was fine, and the gum grew back.

Melissa had a small defect on one of her teeth. The enamel didn't come in on one spot on her front tooth. It was first apparent around 6 months when her tooth erupted. We just kept and eye on it for the first 2 years and diligently kept it clean. After that we started taking her to the dentist for fluoride treatments every 3 months to prevent cavity growth. This was a two second procedure where the dentist put a dot of fluoride on the tooth. Melissa's pediatric dentist didn't want to sedate her to work on that tooth until she was a least 30 pounds. (Which was fine by me because the thought of heavy duty anesthesia on one so little made me very nervous!) Their office also had a policy of no restraining kids because they wanted children to have positive first impressions of the dentist. It worked, because Melissa absolutely loves going to the dentist. They make COOL balloon animals there!

In mid January she cooperated very well for the fluoride treatment, but was still only 28 pounds (fully dressed). I asked if they would be willing to try just nitrous oxide with her to see if it would work. The dentist said they would be willing to give it a shot, so we set up an appointment a month later.

On Monday I took her into the dentist. She was quite pleased to sit in the big chair. She got a pair of sunglasses to wear (they were pink!) and settled in to watch the The Little Mermaid on the ceiling. Dentists offices are so much cooler than when I was a kid! The dental assistant talked Melissa through every step of the way.

"Now I'm going to put on a funny nose that smells like oranges! See? Can you smell the oranges?" Melissa nodded.

"Next I'm going to put some water on your tooth. It kind of tickles! I'll put some on your hand first. Can you feel that? Then we use a little vacuum to suck up all the water!"

The dentist also described each step in simple terms as he did it. Melissa sat there cool as a clam with her mouth wide open. They praised her as they went along, and the whole thing only took about 7 minutes from drilling to filling.

Afterwards the dentist commented on how unusual it was for someone her age to cooperate so well. He was very impressed. I was quite pleased too. You never know with two year olds. Sometimes she is so pleasant and easy, and other times everything is NO NO NO! I was also very relieved to avoid the anesthesia route!

We have really been lucky with dentists with both of our kids.

First Sleepover

Matthew has been begging us to let Melissa "sleep over" in his room for some time. Sunday night we relented under two conditions.

1. We don't want to SEE small people.

2. We don't want to HEAR small people.

If they broke either of these two conditions, the slumber party would be over.

Matthew laid out the napping rolls, we tucked them in, and turned on the quiet "night time" music. I figured I would end up tucking them into their separate beds within 15 minutes.

10 minutes later it was very quite and I checked on them. There they were, side by side, and both peacefully sleeping. They looked like two fair-haired cherubs dreaming happy dreams.

Who'da thought?

First Haircut...

While I blissfully dozed this morning...

Jonathan decided that his hair needed a buzz. He clipped his hair and then left the kit out on the table while he ran for a quick the shower. Melissa decided that her hair needed a trim too, and availed herself of the scissors. Naturally she whacked off the front part because that is what she can see/reach best! Let's just say that she needs a few more lessons before graduating from beauty school. I shudder to think of her skills unleashed on the innocent, unsuspecting public!

Later, Jonathan brought the kids in for scriptures and prayer. "Notice anything about your daughter?" "AHHH! Her HAIR?! Matthew did YOU leave your scissors out?" Matthew denied any responsibility and Jonathan relayed the story. Melissa was happily climbing on top of me seemingly oblivious to her mother's shock.

"I don't think this can be fixed... Oh poor hair!" Jonathan apologized for his lapse in judgment, but what can you do? The deed was done. If she were a boy we could just buzz her head.

After I kissed Jonathan goodbye for work he said, "I guess this means twice as much chocolate for Valentines!" I gave a half-hearted laugh.

I called a neighbor, Kristin, who has a salon in her basement and described our morning's adventures. She had us come right over. Melissa liked sitting in the big salon chair with the fish-covered hair cape.

She kept up a running stream of commentary during the entire process:
"My hair is broken. You fix my hair?"

"I have pretty blue eyes."

"Look! A TV!"

"My hair is broken. Too bad!"

"I try that?" (some bottled hair products)

"I have curly hair. You fix my hair?"

"I play now?"

Kristin cut the top part of her hair so the demarcation between the shorn and unshorn portions wouldn't be so painfully obvious. Then she gave the rest of the hair a good trim. She was amazingly good on such a wiggly target. Two year olds do NOT sit still as a general rule. When I mentioned how impressed I was, she laughed and said this was nothing. She used to work at a kiddie hair cut place. Some kids would scream and thrash through the whole procedure.

Our neighbor said that on the bright side Melissa has curly hair that can kind of cover up the bare patch. Most people wouldn't even notice. On the down side I couldn't help but notice. No longer is she the girl with the curls on her forehead. Sigh. I'm sure that this is the first of many hairstyles and cuts Melissa will inflict on her head that I won't be thrilled with.

I'm thinking of getting some fat stretchy headbands with bows to cover things up a bit. But then again she'd probably just pull them off.


I wasn't expecting Jonathan home until late because he has a Python (it's a programming language) users meeting in Salt Lake that he heads. He usually goes from work straight there. Hence, I was very surprised when he walked in shortly after 5 with the largest bouquet of long-stemmed red roses that I have ever seen. They are absolutely huge! And stunning! He also gave me 2 lbs of dark chocolates. Wow! I asked if he was afraid I was mad at him. "Well, I figured that now I had 2 reasons to get flowers and chocolate." Sweet man! I wasn't mad, (FYI) but I'll sure take the flowers and chocolates!

So an interesting day. :)

Thursday, February 07, 2008

That's MY kid!

Warning: this is a bragging parent post. :)

Matthew really likes his preschool teacher and even drew a picture of himself and his teacher to give to her.

I called her up today to see how she thought Matthew was doing with his speech and in class in general. We've had him in speech therapy for the last several months with a break in December. I think he's improved considerably. He's making sounds that he couldn't make at all before.

His teacher, Ms. Jan, said that he was doing very well and was easy to understand except when he got to speaking too quickly. When he slows down he enunciates clearly.

She then went on to say that she thinks he going to be a writer. He comes up with all kinds of stories and has a fantastic imagination. He also asks lots of questions and loves to soak up information. She also pointed out that his penmanship is coming along nicely and he does a beautiful job with his name. (They practice writing their names everyday and his writing is very clear.)

Ms. Jan says that they have been working on reading 3 and 4 letter words and that he another kid seem ready for easy readers, so she is going to have them work on those separately from the rest of the class starting next week.

Socially, she says he is doing great too. Matthew is a leader and independent thinker. He plays well with the other kids and is well liked, but also has his own ideas about things and expresses them. He accepts defeat well (!) and is quick to tell the other team "good job" when they beat his team. Ms. Jan told me that he stays on task and is just a very pleasant kid to have in her class.

Wow! Maybe we're doing something right. Or maybe we're just lucky.

Either way, that's MY boy!

I fought the law

Got in from Chicago at 2 AM on a flight that was supposed to be in at 11. They kept saying it was going to be on time until an hour before it should have left, then pushed it back an hour at a time. It could have been worse; the flight before was on time... until it was canceled.

So I was eager to get home.

I figured the cops wouldn't care if you speed a bit at 2:30 AM. I was wrong. I tore past one of those lame "stealth" cop cars, the ones that only have markings on the sides and no lights on top. He flipped on his lights and pulled me over.

I tried my dad's technique: tell the truth.

"Do you know what the speed limit is?" "65, sir." "Do you know how fast you were going?" "Over 80." [examines license] "Slow it down, okay?" "Yessir."

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

We're so glad when Daddy comes home...

Glad as we can be!

Melissa has been asking for her Daddy.....everyday.......many, many times a day!

Every time she hears a car pull onto our street she yells, "Daddy's home!"
In the morning she calls for Daddy to come get her. (Jonathan usually takes the kids in the morning. I got it soft, I know.)
She starts looking out the window for him when it gets dark.
During family prayer in the evening she asks for her "Daddy come home."

She is a real Daddy's girl.

Matthew has asked a few times, but he knows his Dad is coming home on Thursday.

Me, I really, really hoping he makes it back tomorrow morning. He's stuck in the Chicago airport. They're calling it the most snow since 1991. Great.

We all miss Daddy.

Little Imp!

It's 11 PM.

I hear an indignant, sleepy, "MOOoooM! She's in here! Melissa's in here!"

I go to Matthew's room to investigate. Matthew is sitting up in bed looking grumpy. There is a suspicious lump of bedding beside him. I pull back the covers and Melissa grins and giggles at me. I tuck Matthew back in. He's out before his head even hits the pillow. I cart Melissa back to her bed and tuck her in as well. She seems quite pleased with herself. What a good joke!

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I'm such a travel moron

This is my third Hilton of the night.

I'm in Chicago on my second business trip. My boss said he was staying at the Hilton Magnificent Mile. Okay, no sweat. Google [hilton magnificent mile], book a room.

Only he was in "Hilton Garden Inn Chicago Downtown/Magnificent Mile." I got a room in "Hilton Suites Chicago/Magnificent Mile."

It was the top Google hit.

But it gets better. Our hotels are only 14 blocks away from each other, just under a mile. When I left Ben's hotel, I told a taxi driver to "take me to the other Hilton." "The one on Michigan?" he asked. "Yes," I told him. I remembered that the taxi from the airport last night had asked if it was the one on Michigan. I called Rachel and she said it wasn't on Michigan but it was about a block away. Close enough, I figured.

Not close enough. This was another Hilton, several miles away. This time I went to the front desk to figure out exactly which damn Hilton I was in. Armed with that knowledge I took another taxi to, finally, the right hotel.

Now I'm left wondering how on earth my taxi from last night got me to the right one on the first try. Maybe he uses Google.

Developing Empathy

Matthew came out of his room wailing about his popped balloon. I think he was tired, because his reaction was way out of proportion even for the drama king.

Melissa was happily playing with her balloon when Matthew came out. First she tried to give him a hug. When that didn't work she said, "Here Da'chew, here my balloon."

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Reflecting on President Hinckley

I remember the first time I saw President Hinckley in person. Shortly after he was set apart as prophet, my family drove up for a regional conference in Washington. It was very exciting because we'd never lived in an area the prophet had visited before. I don't remember much of his talk, but I do remember his infectious optimism.

It wasn't until I was in college that I had opportunity to be in the same room with him again. Granted it was a large, packed stadium. Again I remember his sunny disposition. When you listened to him speak, you could tell that here was a good, kind man, and follower of Christ.

He always spoke of women with great respect and tenderness. Here is his tribute to his wife who preceded him:
"My brethren and sisters, at the outset, if you will bear with me, I wish to exercise a personal privilege. Six months ago, at the close of our conference, I stated that my beloved companion of 67 years was seriously ill. She passed away two days later. It was April 6, a significant day to all of us of this Church. I wish to thank publicly the dedicated doctors and wonderful nurses who attended her during her final illness.

My children and I were at her bedside as she slipped peacefully into eternity. As I held her hand and saw mortal life drain from her fingers, I confess I was overcome. Before I married her, she had been the girl of my dreams, to use the words of a song then popular. She was my dear companion for more than two-thirds of a century, my equal before the Lord, really my superior. And now in my old age, she has again become the girl of my dreams."

Later on he spoke of the creation up to Adam:
But the process was not complete.

"For Adam there was not found an help meet for him.

"And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof;

"And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

"And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman" (Genesis 2:20–23).

And so Eve became God's final creation, the grand summation of all of the marvelous work that had gone before.

Notwithstanding this preeminence given the creation of woman, she has so frequently through the ages been relegated to a secondary position. She has been put down. She has been denigrated. She has been enslaved. She has been abused. And yet some few of the greatest characters of scripture have been women of integrity, accomplishment, and faith.

And this further in the talk:
There are some men who, in a spirit of arrogance, think they are superior to women. They do not seem to realize that they would not exist but for the mother who gave them birth. When they assert their superiority they demean her. It has been said, "Man can not degrade woman without himself falling into degradation; he can not elevate her without at the same time elevating himself" (Alexander Walker, in Elbert Hubbard's Scrap Book [1923], 204).
Taken from the 2004 Conference Address

Another talk that touched my heart was a talk given on forgiveness.

I think it [forgiveness] may be the greatest virtue on earth, and certainly the most needed. There is so much of meanness and abuse, of intolerance and hatred. There is so great a need for repentance and forgiveness. It is the great principle emphasized in all of scripture, both ancient and modern.

He relayed a story of a terrible crime, deep sorrow, and forgiveness. Truly beautiful.

But really the sum of his character is in what he did.

He gave us the Proclamation on the Family, a plan for smaller numerous temples to bring temples closer to the members, Preach My Gospel for the missionaries, he traveled extensively to visit and fellowship with members all over the world, the Perpetual Education Fund was set up to help those in third world countries, relief efforts were directed to disaster areas all around the world, and lastly he emphasized kindness to all people regardless of creed, race or sex, by his gentle example. I know there are many other things I have not listed that others will.

I would add that may he rest in peace, but I believe he is quite busy doing good in heaven, with his beloved wife at last.

President Gordan B. Hinckley 1910-2008

The Votes are In

Yesterday Jonathan asked Matthew and Melissa what they thought of a new brother or sister.

Matthew: I want a brother!!

Melissa: I wan' a sister!!

Pretty sure that we'll have one or the other. :)

Jonathan has dreamed of a little girl. I have too, but my dreams are mostly weird so I usually discount them. Anyways in my dream I was having mild contractions (wouldn't that be great!) lying on my side, and mostly dozing alone on my bed. All of a sudden I feel a slippery baby body slide down my leg, and there she was, all 9 lbs 1 oz of her! At that point I called the midwife and Jonathan in the room. Such fun!

I also still dream about being in college and forgetting to drop a class that I didn't want to take, and then finding out about it just before the major paper for the class is due and the final exam. I HATE those dreams. I always wake up in a panic. For the record this has never happened.

I dream too of being a double agent in Putin's Russia. I have infiltrated the mafia/government and have invaluable info for the US government. In these dreams I am on the run, trying to flee Russia with many narrow escapes. My heart is always pounding upon waking from these dreams/nightmares too. Have I ever been to Russia? No. I don't read thrillers, so where in heck do those dreams come from?

I have lots of other wild dreams too, but after relaying them to Jonathan in the morning I usually forget them.

So no, I don't put much stock in my crazy dreams.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Our kids are not introverts

I was talking with my friend Ben over lunch yesterday about extroversion. Ben is one of the most gregarious people I know, but he claims that he's not really an extrovert, because "If you put me in a cave for three weeks with my laptop and some books I would be fine. And productive. But a real extrovert, like my wife, would go insane without being around people." (Rachel agreed with this characterization of Jessica.) But he admits that he never feels the need to go recharge by himself after being around people too long.

Matthew is a full-fledged extrovert.

I got up early this morning (6:20) because I went to bed early last night with a headache. It was very pleasant, being alone in the dark and silence.

Then Matthew got up. He's been an incessant stream of chatter for half an hour. I've tried to deflect it with "uh huh" and "talk to Mommy when she gets up" but it is not working. I am being dragged out of my happy place.

Right now while I'm writing this:

"Do you like the songs? On Metroid? I like them. I like the songs on Metroid."

[10 second pause] "Can I have some lemonade? Can I pour myself some?"

[10 seconds] "Dad, sometimes when I slip, I put my hand down, and I don't get hurt."

[10 seconds] "When the fireplace is fixed, do you think we can turn it on?"

Melissa might be more in the middle. She enjoys chattering at us and her brother, but occasionally she will go "hide" behind the curtains in her room and play quietly by herself.