Thursday, December 27, 2012

Saturday, December 22, 2012


We have been driving natural gas cars for the past several years in order to save our planet and our pocketbooks (the gas costs only 1.50/gallon and they are non-polluting). However, we needed a bigger car in order to get all our four children in the backseat and the only natural gas options were enormous vans and suburbans.  Natural gas minivans do not yet exist, although we hear that one in development.  So we got the only less gigantic alternative fuel vehicle in the market that would seat our kids in back, the toyota highlander, which is a hybrid electric mini-SUV.  Toyota hybrids have had a lot of well-publicized recalls and ours was no exception.  We bought it with two recalls already on it.  However, the Toyota people have mastered recall customer service. My kids thoroughly enjoyed the recall repair experience.  The dealership was equipped with a pirate-theme playground, coin-free arcade, wi-fi, multiple big screen TVs, and complementary popcorn, danishes and hot chocolate.  Moreover, all the kid-friendly amenities were located far, far away from the more grown-up lounges with computer stations, so I didn't have to worry about my kids bothering people.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A Conversation in Ancient Maya

(Mayan Contractor stands over a circular stone calendar, holding the
final piece.)

Mayan Bureaucrat
How's that calendar coming?

Mayan Contractor
I am just laying the last stone.

Mayan Bureaucrat
You've built it backwards!

Mayan Contractor
What are you talking about?

Mayan Bureaucrat
It's supposed to spiral outwards, not toward the center.

Mayan Contractor
Hey, I was just following orders. What difference does it make, anyway?

Mayan Bureaucrat
If you spiral toward the center, we'll run out of space and the
calendar will end.  You'll have to rebuild it.

Mayan Contractor
If I build it twice, I charge you double.

Mayan Seer
Hark! I have seen a vision. Do not rebuild this calendar, for behold,
I foresee that the days we measure will stop with the calendar.

Mayan Bureaucrat
(Quaking with fear) The world is going to end on that day?

(Mayan Contractor drops the stone and backs away.)

Mayan Seer
Of course not.  That's nuts.  I envision that in that day, stone
calendars will be obsolete, replaced by smart phones.

Mayan Contractor
Smart whats?

Mayan Bureaucrat
Never mind.  We're out of budget and I don't want to chisel and route another memo. Stone tablet memos are heavy. 

Mayan Contractor
What about the backwards spiral issue?

Mayan Bureaucrat
Not my problem.  I'll be retired before this calendar ends.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Friends in High Places

We have yet to figure out why, but my little office somehow made it onto the Obama Christmas card mailing list.  We gloat about it to the other Department employees, who are not cool enough to correspond with the White House.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Siri: my surprisingly aloof new friend

I got a completely unexpected early holiday present today; an iphone 5 was waiting for me at work.   I was caught unprepared.  Since I had no reason to believe such a luxury item would be part of my future, I didn't pay close attention to the commercials and I keep asking Siri to do things she doesn't do.  I don't think she likes me very much.  I can tell she is rolling her eyes at me when she politely but firmly informs me that whatever I am asking her for is out of the question, but she did deign to write some emails I dictated to her. Hopefully, I will learn more about her real functions later.  Unfortunately, a USB cable was not waiting with the new phone, so Siri will be resting over Thanksgiving weekend.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Moments in Parenting

Pre-Haircut Photo
I made my first attempt ever at cutting my boys' hair at home. Results were mixed.  On the bright side,  I didn't think either of them came out looking too bad and my toddler, especially, seemed to enjoy the experience.  Unfortunately, he had so much fun that about a week later, he decided to try it again, this time cutting his own hair all by himself.  And so I cut it again, even shorter, in an attempt to blend in his handiwork.  If we continue this cycle, by a week or two from now, he could be bald.

My four-year-old is going through a bit of a phase.  Well, two phases.  He has become obsessed with all things electronic and he has suddenly become unruly at preschool.  I have attempted to nip both problems in the bud by blocking all electronic devices with passwords.  Now, he has to earn screentime as a reward for good behavior at preschool.  His teachers report a miraculous improvement in his behavior.  Yesterday, he said to me as he unsuccessfully lobbied for extra, unearned screentime, "Mommy, you are the stupidest mommy I have ever had."  (To his credit, he felt guilty for saying such a horrible thing.)

Some sort of record-keeping blunder at my seven-year-old daughter's school resulted in her being placed at "H" reading level, when she actually tested at "L." I had wondered how they expected her to do 20 minutes of nightly reading in texts that she always completed within a few minutes, but it never occurred to me to question it.  We are supposed to spend some of the time discussing the book, but both of us were bored of that after a couple minutes, so I just had her spend the other 10 minutes or so reading from her own books or library books.  Her teacher sent a letter home last week with her apologies and an actual full-length book: Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein.  My daughter is thrilled with the new material and we no longer have to supplement to fill her allotted reading time.  I have been reading some books lately for research purposes and marking passages with post-its.  I was surprised to see that my daughter had noticed my reading patterns: she has cluttered the Silverstein book with post-its.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Summer Photos the Sequel

After posting my random summer photos, I realized that I missed some.  Here they are:
State fair

Hayride at Thanksgiving Point

My toddler doesn't realize that he isn't actually playing the demo at the arcade.  Makes for cheap entertainment.

My sis, baby, niece and daughter at Trafalga.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Reminiscing about Pregnancy

The first time I was pregnant, I felt pretty adorable. 

And why shouldn't I?  Everywhere I went, people complimented me and fussed over me and sometimes even threw parties in my honor.

During my second pregnancy, I portrayed a pregnant character in a local community theater musical.  My dancing abilities fluctuate somewhere between adequate and sub-par, so I am not accustomed to a lot of praise for that aspect of my performance.  But whenever I pulled off a solidly adequate feat of dance in this particular production, the directors would gush and even encourage other cast members to emulate me:  "Look at April!  She's doing the knee spin and she's pregnant!"

By the third time around, I was older and so was my maternity wardrobe, but I still felt reasonably classy in my motherly state:

In fact, I got kind of sentimental about the whole thing, thinking this might be my last time around, and the idea of a body cast finally appealed to me, even though I had shunned the idea as weird during my first two pregnancies.  (It helped that I found a kit that made a cast that looked like a drape over a pregnant body, instead of a naked pregnant body.)

During my most recent pregnancy,  I was feeling my age. I would look in the mirror and see this:

That was on a good day.  On a bad day, my reflection looked more like this to me:

While I was much less fond of pregnancy this time around, I loved the hospital as much as ever.  Many women do not share my enthusiasm for the hospital.  They prefer to avoid that sterile environment and have their babies in the comfort of home.   While I respect their right to do so, I would never (and didn't ever) consider having a baby anywhere but at the hospital.  When it comes to giving birth, I like sterility and I can't imagine that my home would be comfortable--after all, I am the one who would have to clean it after all that childbirth happened.  Plus, my other kids live at my home.  I would have my baby in a hospital even if they didn't conveniently happen to offer medical care there.  There are so many reasons I love the hospital:

  • They have cleaning crews.
  • They have room service (and it is yummy!  People probably just think that hospital food is bad because they happen to be sick whenever they eat it.)
  • Friends and family stop by to visit, sometimes bearing gifts, and no one cares that I am entertaining them in my pajamas.
  • I get to stay in a room (almost) all by myself and relax and read or watch a movie.
  • The only other person staying in my room is a darling new baby and if I do need some personal time to nap or shower, all I have to do is press my call button and someone arrives to babysit him.
  • This last time, the hospital added the charming perk of a celebration dinner for two--it was like a date.
It makes me kind of sad to think that for the rest of my life, I will only get a chance to stay in the hospital if I get sick or injured.  I think that would make the experience much less pleasant.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

He's smiling now!

Here is the first photo where we succeeded at capturing the baby's smile.  He is a happy little guy, and smiles often now.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Books I've Been Reading

I always do a lot of reading when I have a newborn because I spend so much time sitting still while I nurse.  I've added some of my favorite recent reads to my virtual bookshelf.  I have been especially interested in autobiographies lately, and so there are several of those among my new favorite reads, including the autobiographies of Rosa Parks, Barack Obama, Joanna Brooks and Tina Fey.

Currently, I am almost finished reading the Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.  Although I haven't quite finished this one, I have already deemed it worthy of my virtual shelf.  Henrietta Lacks is the person from whom the first living cell culture was taken.  (Since she is deceased, this is obviously a biography, not an autobiography, but I like those, too.) This is a fascinating read, very informative with regard to science, bioethics and social justice issues, but also just a great human interest story about people who live in my wealthy nation but seem to live in a different world because of their extreme poverty.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Infant Pancakes?

Speaking of pancakes, my husband shot these photos of the 4-year-old enjoying his--especially the powdered sugar on top.
I took my baby in for his 2-months-old appointment a few days ago.  His 2- and 4-year-old brothers accompanied us.  Both big brothers were thrilled about a trip to the doctor's office and wanted in on the action.  When the pediatrician came into the room, they practically accosted him, each showing off their owies and boo-boos for his inspection.

"Wow, they're talkative today," the doctor observed. "Lots of energy!"

"Yes," I agreed.

"Or are they always like this?"

"Yes," I agreed again.

As he started the baby's exam, the doctor asked the big brothers, who had both climbed up onto the exam table as well, what the baby eats.

"Milk," said the 4-year-old.

"Pancakes," said the 2-year-old.

The pediatrician was amused by my 2-year-old's answer.  The 4-year-old was not.  He tried to rectify this misinformation: "The baby does not eat pancakes," he refuted.  "He just eats milk.  It is special baby milk that comes out of Mommy's tummy."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Summer Photos

Fall has arrived.  I glanced at Facebook yesterday and saw that everyone but me was uploading pictures of fall color.  Facebook was unusually pretty.  My neighborhood is getting pretty, too, but I don't have any fall photos yet.  Instead, here are some summer ones:

Tracy Aviary:  When did they remodel?  It is much nicer than I rememberer it from the last time I was there.

Here we are fishing at Hyrum Lake.  My husband, son and daughter each caught a yummy trout!  We have never had so much fishing success before.
My husband participated in a bike-athon in Logan.  While we were there, I wanted to show my kids where I went to college.  I limited the tour to the most kid-friendly parts.  I drove though campus to First Dam, a mountain park just a few minutes away from campus, and then came back to campus for some Aggie Icecream.

Here, the kids enjoy the Salt Lake City International Peace Gardens, which have gardens themed after many parts of the world.  I think they are in the Norwegian garden here... or maybe Finnish?

We used the "Pass of All Passes" to frequent Seven Peaks, Trafalga, and a bunch of Salt Lake Bees baseball games.  Here is my nephew and son at a Bees game.  This photo is unusual because one of my kids is actually watching the game.  They all love the ballpark, but mostly for the bouncy house, the playground, the train rides,  and the hot dogs.  I am not sure they have noticed that baseball happens there.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Nursery

We recently added some finishing touches to our nursery.  It's much cuter than the boring ceiling we painted, and I posted that, so I thought I would show off the nursery, too.  A lot of the same stuff has been here (or rather, in our previous nurseries) since the nursery belonged to our first child, but we've added to it with each baby. 

We have so many beautiful baby blankets that it seems like a shame to hide them in the closet, so we hang them on the wall.  Many of them are gifts.

I was nervous about hanging anything above the crib that could fall down and hurt the baby, so I made these picture frames  from fabric for our four babies' photos.

I painted this when I was expecting my first baby.  We were living in an apartment then, and I wanted a mural in the nursery, so I painted it on fabric so I could take it with me when we moved.

This was my husband's dresser in college.  Of course, it was less colorful then.  It was so beaten up and ugly that my sister borrowed it once for a prop in a play she was in that required a starving student kind of set.   I painted it when we moved out of the apartment to a condo and got our furniture out of storage.  My oldest was still the baby then.  The rocking chair behind it was from a thrift store.  It was ugly, too, before we fixed it up.  As you can tell, we don't have a big furniture budget.

We found this shelf, with peeling paint and most of the hooks missing, in the garage of the condo we bought.  I fixed it up and put it to use, displaying my babies' and my blessing clothes, a "Where the Wild Things Are" clock (made from a free medicine ad clock that I got from a sales rep) , and various handmade gifts my babies received.  Most of the gifts came from my sister, who is a gift giver extraordinaire.

Baby toys hang behind the door.

We found fan blade covers to make the fan look painted at Lowe's.    Later, my mom gave me a rug with the same colors.

Here is the more utilitarian part of the room.  We use cloth diapers at home and disposables when we go out and we can't convince our toddler to potty train, so we have two kids in two kinds of diapers.  So there is a lot of stuff over here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


I was born with long, dark hair, so before I had my first baby, I imagined that my kids would have the same:

Um, no.  My first child looked like this:

She did have a tiny bit of hair, but it was blonde, thin and nearly invisible. By the time she was two, she only had grown this much hair:

These ringlets, that took so long to grow in, did not last long.  A week before her third birthday, she cut almost all of them off right along her head and dropped them one at a time into a bowl.  It was a premeditated crime.  Sometime earlier that week, she had stolen a pair of scissors from a high cupboard and hidden them in her room in preparation for the haircut.  So she was practically bald again, just like her younger brother, who was born with just as little hair:

Same goes for #3, but at least he had a different face than my first two clone babies:

By the time my newest arrival came, I had grown accustomed to blonde, nearly bald babies, so I wasn't expecting this:

Not only does he have hair, but it appears to be brown!  (My first three were all blonde.  The first and third still are, but my second child's curly blonde hair recently turned into straight, light brown hair.)