May 20, 2009

Close Call

Posted in Days of my life, Deep thoughts, Family life at 12:48 AM by Robin

My grandparents made the Deseret News today, but not in a good way:

Manti Couple Rescued From Forest

It doesn’t sound like that dangerous of a situation at first, but you have to realize that both of my grandparents are getting close to 90.  My Grandma is very fragile and can barely walk unassisted. Their car was stuck at a steep angle, and she was unable to get out. My Grandpa is in relatively good health for his age, but he literally was out walking in freezing temperatures in the dark all night long.  He was suffering from shock and dehydration when they finally found him the next day.  I first heard the news around 1:00 PM, when they hadn’t found him yet, so he was probably wandering around lost for close to twenty hours.  Both of them thought they were going to die that night.

I am so thankful that the Lord was looking out for them and that Search and Rescue was able to find them.  I don’t have a real relationship with my other grandparents.  My dad’s mother passed away last year, but I was never close at all to her or his father. My mother’s parents were always the ones I thought of when I thought of my grandparents.  My Grandpa is such a catankerous but funny character. He was the sealer at our wedding.  His devotion and love for his wife is so touching. He keeps a picture of her from before they got married on his desk, and often makes the comment that she’s prettier now than she was then.  My Grandma is sweet and patient and so loving.  She is the only person in the world who I can truly say I have never seen lose their temper.  She has gone through so many health challenges lately, yet she just keeps fighting and making it through.  They are both a wonderful example of what I hope my marriage to be like fifty years from now.  I am very grateful the Lord was watching out for them and gave us a little more time with these special people.

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Max and Beth Call with Lily (nine months old)

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April 29, 2009

Easy Come, Easy Go

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting at 3:58 PM by Robin

“That was nice of the lady at the craft store to give you a balloon, Lily. Here, let me tie it onto your wrist so you don’t lose it.”

“Noooo, Mommy! See, she cut the string really long so even if it floats up to the ceiling, I can still reach it.”

“Well, okay. You can keep it that way until we go out to the car.”

Ten minutes later.

“Okay, Lily, we’re going out to the car now.  Let me tie the balloon to your wrist so it doesn’t fly away.”

“Noooo! I don’t want to tie it my wrist!  I can hold onto it until we get inside the car!”

“Well…okay. But don’t let go!”

“I won’t!”

Ten minutes later:

“Okay, we’re home now, Lily. Let me tie your balloon to your wrist so it doesn’t fly away.”

“Nooooo! I don’t wanna tie it to my wrist!  I’ll be very, very careful!”

“Are you sure? It’s kind of windy out here and balloons can fly away very fast.”

“Noooo! I can hold it!”

Mommy turns her back to get James out of the car.

“WAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!  MY BALLOOOOOOOOOOON!!!!!!! I WANT MY BALLOOOOOOOOOON!!!!”

You saw it coming too, right?

April 13, 2009

Getting Back to Real Life

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting at 9:42 AM by Robin

Hey, how did you spend Spring Break?

Did you take the kids on vacation somewhere fun?  Or did you spend it cleaning up ten episodes of baby vomit? Or maybe you spent it lying on the sofa for 24 hours straight, fighting against the Evil Martian Death Flu, while certain of your kids were completely destroying the house and your other kid was moping around on the other sofa, yelling curses at the other kid for being the first one to get sick and bring the flu from Hell upon you all?  Did you feel incredibly guilty for being unable due to your incapacitation to help the Easter Bunny make his scheduled early Saturday appointment for your house, which has allowed your family to separate the spiritual and secular facets of Easter for the past two or three years, and had to do last minute shopping on Saturday night in order to not completely disappoint the kiddies? 

 Did you also feel incredibly guilty for promising your two girls new Easter dresses, but were unable to go shopping for them until late Saturday evening due to the fact that you were dealing with one vomiting child after another for the past week, and then finding that of the limited selection of dresses left in stock, only the really ugly dresses have sleeves on them anymore? Did your guilt continue because you bought the sleeveless dresses anyway because they were so cute, but you didn’t have enough money left to buy any of those little white sweaters, so when the girls wore their sleeveless dresses to church the next day, you wondered how many people were judging you for raising your children to be immodest and what a terrible example of a wife of a counselor in the bishopric you are? 

Did you spend Easter Sunday at home with just your family and only had a token pan of Cheesy Potatoes and ham for your Easter feast because you just didn’t have it in you to cook a big dinner or go visit anybody else? Did you finish off your whole unforgettable Spring Break experience by watching the classic movie “The Money Pit” and wondering why Shelley Long was being such a b$@%# to Tom Hanks when he actually got mad (gasp!) at the fact that she cheated on him (or thought she did)?  Did you then wonder if you were allowed to like Tom Hanks movies anymore since he has recently professed anti-Mormon sentiments?  Did you go to bed praying that you would not have to deal with more rain and possible snow storms for the next week?

You didn’t?  Huh.  Well, just wondering!

March 15, 2009

The Big Bad Word

Posted in Days of my life, Deep thoughts, Family life, Just thinking..., Mormon life, Parenting tagged , , , , , , at 9:38 PM by Robin

swear

An argument between Lily and Brianna yesterday over computer rights ended with a very distraught Lily pulling on Bri’s hair and saying,” Get out of that chair, you…you b@#$%! (expletive rhyming with a popular Halloween costume.)”  Andrew and I were both standing right there, and instantly we both looked at each other in surprise.

“Did she just say what I think she just said?” we asked each other almost at the same time. Yes, friends, our darling, sweet, innocent little four-year-old girl, had just mouthed a common obscenity.  Now, being a product of our somewhat liberal generation, I suppose, rather than being shocked and outraged, we both had a hard time not bursting out into laughter.  Not that we are trying to encourage our daughter to have a foul mouth, but it just sounds insanely funny to hear a little girl trying out her first swear word.  You could tell she knew that it was a bad name, but I’m sure she didn’t think it any worse than calling her sister an idiot or stupidhead or any of the other charming names my children like to call each other.

Of course, we immediately took her aside and told her that particular word was not a good thing to say and that she shouldn’t say it anymore.  We didn’t punish her or anything, because the concept of swear words is itself a new one for her.  I mean, this is my third verbal child and I know by now that they are just little parrots at this age. If my nine-year-old started spitting out obscenities, there would be a bit more a punishment involved, as he knows full well what words he isn’t supposed to say. My two older kids have of course said swear words before, but I really don’t remember either of them using one in context in that way (although I do remember babysitting one of the girls from my ward when she was about four and she went around the house one day for about two hours straight saying, “Damn you! Damn you!” over and over again. Another time I had a hard time not laughing).

The thing that is troubling about this incident, of course, is trying to figure out where Lily heard that word.  Andrew and I never swear in normal conversation, although a mild expletive has been known to escape both of our lips on rare occasions when we are frustrated.  But neither of us ever uses that word in that way.  I didn’t think we were letting Lily watch any adult shows that included such language, but it’s almost certain that she heard it from some TV show or movie at some time (unless her preschool teacher has a really nasty mouth).  I mention this incident not because I am worried about my children being verbally corrupted by watching TV, as I believe that they learn appropriate language from their parents’ example more than any other source, and even then, in the grand scheme of things, I don’t think swearing is really high on the list of terrible sins, but because it really reminds me how even the most careful parent can’t completely protect their children from all negative wordly experiences.  It’s a little bit scary.

So, what it is a good parent to do?  Obviously, we can’t raise our children in a bubble. They will be exposed to negative influences, sooner or later, and inappropriate language is definitely not the worst of that sort of thing.  It c-young-soldiermakes me think that the best we can do is really teach and prepare our children to face the evils of the world.  Ignorance will not serve them well in the battle ahead.  If you are in a battle, you try to educate your soldiers about the enemy’s tactics and strategies.  Your armor is built to withstand the specific weapons of your opponent.  In the same way, as we put on the armor of God, we should educate our children about the most vulnerable areas that Satan will be aiming for, and how best to deflect those blows. We have to start young, because the enemy starts young.  It’s sad, but it’s true.

I wish I could raise my children in perfect innocence and not open their eyes to the evils of the world until they are more mature.  However, I don’t think this world will allow me that chance.  I am not afraid for them and the future they will face, but I do plan on preparing them and strengthening them for the battle ahead.   My kids are going to hear swear words, whether I want them to or not.  But I as a parent am the stronger influence on them, and my teachings and example are more likely to be what determines whether they will choose to follow the ways of the world or to rise above it.

February 24, 2009

Raid on the Library

Posted in Artsy Stuff, Books, Days of my life, Family life at 11:14 AM by Robin

library-booksI took all the kids to the library last night (tip: strollers, while bulky and annoying, are a MUST for anyone visiting a library with a toddler who gets a kick out of running away from their mother amidst the maze of bookshelves).  As I was stacking up the various books on the counter in preparation for checking them out, I had to chuckle at the interesting variety of selections.  For a trip which included me and four children, we checked out a total of 25 books, three music CDs, and 1 DVD, on three different library cards.  (See if you can figure out who picked out each book!)

Charlie Bone and the Beast

Ghosts Beneath Our Feet

Neil Armstrong: A Biography

Renaissance Music For Inner Peace (music CD)

Shrek the Third Motion Picture Soundtrack (music CD)

Smallville: Soundtrack (music CD)

Little House in the Big Woods                 book-bigwoods

Abigail, the Breeze Fairy

Bella, the Bunny Fairy

Evie, the Mist Fairy

Katie, the Kitten Fairy

Georgia, the Guinea Pig Fairy (Yes, there is, in fact, a guinea pig fairy)

Harriet, the Hamster Fairy (who, I’m sure, is best friends with the guinea pig fairy)

Molly, the Goldfish Fairy

A Marital Relationship Book (which will go unnamed to preserve our dignity)

Ariel’s Beginning

Baby Signs for Bedtime

Five Little Monkeys Go Shopping (Thanks, Liz, for that suggestion–so funny)

Five Little Monkeys Wash The Car

Let’s Go, Froggy!

Froggy Rides a Bike

The Big Baby Book (for babies, not mommies)

My First Signs

The Sword of Shannara Trilogy (all in one big heavy book–rereading the classics!)  sword

David Copperfield (the Dickens one, not the magician–those book lists on Facebook have motivated me)

Scrubs: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)

Up, Up, and Away: an Adventure in Shadows and Shapes

The Daughter of a King (by Rachel Ann Nunes-I love the art)  index_cover

The Secret of the King (the sequel)

Enchanted: True Love’s First Kiss

Yeah. That’s a lot of books.

I have also forbidden any children to check out either DVDs or computer games at the library, since a dollar a day can really add up quick.  Anyway, in case you were wondering what the Lambert family was reading, there you go! Your curiosity has been satisfied.  Have a great day.

January 30, 2009

When is a vacation not a vacation?

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Something exciting! tagged , , , , at 5:30 PM by Robin

donald-tantrum1

I think any family that has traveled with young children knows the answer to this question, which is, of course, any vacation in which you travel with your children.  This is especially true when your children have all been out of school for an entire month before you even leave on your fun-filled trip of family togetherness and all five of you can no longer stand to be in the same room with each other for more than five minutes, much less a five- hour plane trip.

As I mentioned in a previous post, Andrew and I surprised our kids with a week-long trip to Disney World for Christmas.   After much anticipation, the day finally came, and we whisked the children off to the airport (minus our one-year-old, James, who we left at home to be traded off between various relatives all week) for their first flight on a plane and their first glimpse of the fairy tale land created by Walt Disney in Orlando, Florida.  Andrew and I have tender feelings about Orlando, since that is where we went on our honeymoon eleven and a half years ago.  It was a magical experience for us, especially for me, since I had only even been to Disneyland once in my entire life when I was like twelve.  Oh, and because it was our honeymoon! Anyway, we were really excited to share the Disney magic with our kids, and to see all the new changes that had come about in the past decade, including a whole new park, Animal Kingdom, which opened two or three months after we left.

Suffice it to say, it was an entirely different experience this time around.  We had purchased five-day park tickets, not park-hoppers, which were fifty dollars more per person, but just one park a day tickets, which was really plenty.  I think that is the way to go unless you are a Disney regular and have already seen everything a few times already and just want to hit your favorites.  Our hotel was pretty nice–we had a two-room suite with two queens in the bedroom and a sofa bed in the living room area, which worked okay, although it was fairly small and it sure didn’t help us get any more privacy as a couple.  Not that that mattered, since we really only were there long enough to collapse in exhaustion at the end of each day and drag everyone out of bed in the morning. They did have a free breakfast buffet, which, although not particularly nutritious, was ample in quantity and adequate in quality and saved us a bunch of money.

(If you bore easily, you may want to skip the rest of the post, as I go into far too many details which you may or may not care about.) 

We planned to hit each park as soon as it opened in order to avoid most of the lines.  Unfortunately, with the time change, it was really hard to drag any of us out of bed, with the exception of Andrew, who always wakes up way early anyway.  Right from the start, we knew we were in trouble with Lily, who began our trip by throwing a temper tantrum the minute we got out of the car and started walking up to Epcot, our first park.  She didn’t stop until we got home a week later.  Day after day, hour after hour, there was always something to set her off.  I’m talking full-fledged screaming at the top of her lungs, usually something embarassing that could be heard for miles around.  And that was at the beginning of the day, after a full breakfast, so we couldn’t even make the excuse that she was tired or hungry or anything.  When she wasn’t crying, she was complaining, or begging for Disney merchandise, or hitting her brother and sister.  I don’t like to say mean things about my kids, but, boy, she was a total brat the whole time and really almost ruined the trip for everyone else. We did manage to have some fun in the brief intermission between tantrums, but it definitely heightened the stress level for us all.

Of course, there were some things beyond our control that probably didn’t help the situation, such as the fact that a rare cold spell had hit Florida and sent temperatures plummeting to near-record lows.  We had packed anticipating  somewhat warm days and cooler nights, but nobody had anything heavier than a light jacket and a few long-sleeved shirts, and we were getting highs barely in the forties, with a wind-chill factor that made it feel twenty degrees colder.  The big news story was how they were actually cold enough at night to freeze a tray of ice cubes (seriously, I saw them do that on the news).  Needless to say, our first couple of days were quite uncomfortable.  It wasn’t all bad, though–a lot of the stuff was inside, and the lines were pretty much nonexistant.  We went on everything with no more than a ten or fifteen minute wait.  We even walked right on to Splash Mountain twice without having to wait at all (I guess most people don’t like getting soaking wet in forty-degree weather.  Neither do we, we just ducked really well.) 

The third day the temperatures warmed up quite a bit, and out came all the people.  We had a lot harder time getting to see everything at Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom, and had to miss out on a few shows, but we saw all the important stuff, and rode on most of the good stuff twice.  In fact, the big kids got to ride on the good stuff like Space Mountain and the Tower of Terror four times, because we had to child-swap Lily, and they let the two of them ride again with the second parent.  We actually talked Lily into going on a couple of scarier rides that she was big enough for, like Big Thunder Mountain, the Haunted Mansion, and the Tower of Terror.  She went once, and claimed that it was “Awesome!” But I think that it was all a show because she refused to go on them more than once. We ended up going back to Animal Kingdom for our fifth day, and were able to ride our favorite, Expedition Everest, a few more times.  That’s a pretty cool ride.  I love how it goes backwards.  Although Andrew and I agree that Space Mountain still wins out for sheer uniqueness and fun. I think Animal Kingdom was our favorite, not just for the roller coaster, but for the lush, jungle-like landscaping, the slower pace, and for our favorite Disney moment of the trip: Finding Nemo: the Musical. 

I’m not kidding.  This was not just an abbreviated rehash of the big production numbers of the big Disney cartoons.  It was the Finding Nemo story, of course, but what made it unique was that all the fish were puppets and all the singing and acting was done live by the puppeteers, who were findingnemothemusical5dressed in tropical reef-colored body suits that only exposed their faces, but were in all other ways completely visible.  They were singing live, not lip-synching, as it was obvious the voices were not the same as those in the cartoon (a fact thatbruce might bother some small children, but one that you get over pretty quick).  The music, although unfamiliar, was TOTALLY SWEET!! That’s Turtle Talk for AWESOME, DUDE!  And the puppetry was innovative and amazing.  We loved it.  That was worth the price of admission right there.  You can get an idea from this official bunch of clips, and of course you can find the whole thing on youtube, if you want, although most of the video quality is pretty poor.  I hope they do performances of it outside of Disney World in the future, I’d love to see it again.

Anyway, after four and a half days of Disney, we drove off to Cape Canaveral, and let the kids play on the beach for a couple of hours. The next day, we went to the Kennedy Space Center, which was fascinating.  The tour kennedy2didn’t get us as close to the launch pad as I would have hoped, but the 3D IMAX film we saw, Magnificent Desolation, was spectacular, and they had some really cool effects on their shuttle launch simulator (note: the preshow is actually cooler than the actual “launch”, which is nothing compared to Mission:Space).  The best part of that tour was definitely when they put us in the “firing room”, which is a re-creation of the “mission control” used during the Apollo moon flights, using the actual original computers in the room.  They do a countdown for a mock blast-off while showing you a  video of the reminiscences of those involved with the technical part of the process, and you can actually feel and hear the explosion of the rockets, right down to the rattling of the glass in the windows.  Then the doors open and you go into the next room, where they have one of the actual Saturn V rockets used to go to the moon on display.  It’s about the size of a football field, hanging horizontally from the ceiling.  The “bottom”, where the rocket thrusters are, is probably three or four stories high.  That there was one big rocket.  Actually, I guess it was like three big rockets all stuck together that dropped off one at a time.  It was pretty impressive.  Unfortunately, we weren’t able to see all of the Space Center before we had to leave to drive back to the airport and catch our plane, but I think we did manage to see all the coolest parts.

By the time we got back to the airport and got on the place, everyone was pretty much worn out and ready to go home.  All the kids were complaining how homesick they were, and how they missed James and Buddy and Shadow (our dog and cat).  The flight home was interminable, and Lily managed to pull off one of her best tantrums of the trip as we were waiting to get off the plane.  It was cold, snowy, and slushy in Salt Lake City, but boy, were we glad to get home. 

It’s been almost a week now, and I think I have finally recovered.  The big kids went back to school on Wednesday, and things are finally starting to mellow out a bit.  I think, overall, the good things outweighed the bad, and we managed to actually have a good time.  However, I don’t think we’ll be going back for at least another ten years!

January 14, 2009

New Year, New Me? Let’s hope…

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Girl Stuff, Mormon life tagged , , , , at 2:59 PM by Robin

 

Like 95% of Americans, I have resolved to lose weight this year.  Again.  It really hit home when we gathered together with the Lambert family last weekend to watch the 2008 DVD collection of everyone’s pictures and home videos.  Despite mydesperate attempts to avoid all cameras this year, occasionally someone did manage to capture me on (digital) film. I really hardly recognized myself.  I mean, I know it’s me, but it doesn’t look like me.  My face seems all distorted and strange-looking.  I don’t even really care about my body in these pictures, I just hate that some fat person keeps jumping in front of me whenever someone takes my picture.  It’s kind of distressing to me to know that I will still be overly large in all the pictures from our upcoming Disney World trip and that I probably won’t like looking at those pictures, either.  We have some pictures on our wall from when Andrew and I went to Disney World on our honeymoon, eleven years ago, and at the time I thought I looked terrible in them because my hair was way frizzed out and flying all over the place, but now, I can only hope to get back to looking as good as I do in those pictures.  I really don’t want to spend the rest of my life running away from cameras.  And I don’t want my children to grow up remembering me at my current size.

I’ve come to terms with not looking like a supermodel long ago, and I really don’t expect  or need to get down to a size 6, but it would be nice to downsize from moderately obese to pleasantly plump.  For one thing, I’m sick of having to shop in the “Women’s” section (which by the way, is a very annoying way of saying “Fat Ladies”.  I mean, the “Men’s” section is for men of all sizes.  But women have to shop in either the “Misses” or the “Women’s”, which kind of gives the impression that once you grow up and get married, you automatically double in size). It seriously limits your fashion options.

It’s not just about looks, either.  I’ve been having a few minor health problems that would probably be alleviated if I were able to lose a few pounds, like insomnia, sinus problems, and (worse than usual) varicose veins (I know–Ewww).  I would like to take care of that before my minor health concerns become major ones.  They say that just losing ten percent of your body weight can drastically improve your overall health.  So, that’s going to be my starting goal. I hope to lose 10% of my (currently undisclosed) weight by Lily’s birthday, May 3rd. That should put me back at a little less than my pre-James weight, which is certainly not ideal, but is a heck of a lot better than where I am now.

In order to be successful at this endeavor, I need to figure out what’s holding me back.  I have just signed up at a small gym close to our house that is opening up this week (about time–Riverton has been gym-free since we moved here almost nine years ago), but that’s only the first step.  This gym doesn’t have child care, and it is ridiculously difficult to find a time when Andrew can stay home with the children–seriously, he has something EVERY SINGLE NIGHT this week!  (You guys wonder how I can stand having him do plays?  Well, it’s not a whole lot different than normal life at our house.)  Fortunately, his mornings can be flexible sometimes, so we’re going to try to get me over there a couple of mornings a week and on Saturday. 

I’m hoping just getting some actual exercise will give me an initial bump, but I’ve got to figure out how to resolve my nutrition issues.  There are several problems here: first, I’m at home all day with immediate access to all the food at any time. Second, I have to make like ten meals a day, since everyone here seems to need to eat five or six times a day, and I just get really tired of having to prepare stuff that takes time, like chopping vegetables.  Third, nobody in my family will eat anything with vegetables in it.  I would be much  more prone to eating  more salads and stir-frys and salmon and other healthy stuff if I wasn’t the only one who would touch them. Fourth, times are tight for everyone, and I can never (and I mean NEVER) actually manage to keep my grocery spending to the budget that Andrew expects me to.  I simply can’t afford to eat as healthy as I would like.  Especially if I have to make my meals in addition to whatever I have to make that my family will actually eat.

I want you all to understand that I am not trying to make flimsy excuses here.  These are real, difficult obstacles for me.  Believe it or not, I actually do enjoy exercising.  I have missed working out for the past two years.  And I like eating healthy food–I don’t drink soda, I’m not a real big cheese fan, I love almost all vegetables, and I’m not too big on fried foods–so I don’t fit the stereotypical fat American profile.  I can’t just cut soda out of my diet and lose twenty pounds when I only drink soda once or twice a month.  I do snack a lot during the day, and I have absolutely no resistance to sweets. So, there are all my issues laid out for you all to see.  I write this not to complain or whine, but because I could really use some help figuring out how to overcome these problems.  Online diets are not for me.  Keeping track of calories is really annoying and just won’t happen.  I need to find a real life solution.  I would love to be able to post before and after pictures next January and say, “Wow, I can’t believe I ever looked like that!”  If that happens, I’ll be happily jumping in front of any camera that comes my way.

January 5, 2009

Whew! Made it through another year.

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting, Something exciting! tagged , , at 11:53 AM by Robin

happy_new_year_2008

Wow, guys, I’m sorry about the slow December.  But I’m sure you all know how busy December is.  All that planning, shopping, cooking, wrapping, sneaking, deceiving, outright lying…yes, Christmas brings out the best in us all…

Well, to tell the truth, Christmas was really just kind of so-so for me this year.  The presents on Christmas morning were not exactly what had been requested, partly because the letters to Santa got off a little late this year, after Santa had done the majority of shopping for our family.  Santa used Amazon.com extensively this year, and therefore the kids were stuck with what they got.  There was a little moping at first, but they bounced back fairly quickly and seem to enjoy what they got. 

The number of wrapped packages under the tree was also fairly limited this year.  In fact, Mom and Dad only gave the kids one real gift this year (Santa gives the majority of the presents right now).  We told them that the package was small, but it was worth more than all the other gifts combined! (No, the package was not from Tiffany’s) After we had opened all the other gifts, we gave them a note that sent them on a treasure hunt throughout the house.  Andrew had made up nine or ten different clues leading them from the bedroom, to the silverware drawer, to the computer, to the fireplace…uh oh, what happened to the clue that was in the fireplace?  Could that cheerful Christmas morning fire burning in the fireplace have anything to do with its disappearance?  Yes, that’s right, we burned up one of the clues.  Fortunately, Andrew remembered where it was supposed to send them, and the kids were able to pick up the hunt on the next clue.

Finally, after much eager running up and down stairs and in and out of doors, the last clue sent us all back to the Christmas tree, where, hidden underneath the skirt, was an unlabeled CD.  We popped it into the computer, and here is what the kids saw:

 castle1

(OK, so there was a little bit more to it, but I haven’t figured out how to put on videos yet, so I’ll have to show that to you later)

 That’s right, we’re going to Disney World, baby!  As soon as I get Andrew to tell me how, I’m going to have to post the video of the kids reaction, because it was not what I expected.  Rather than erupting into loud screams of joy, they just stared at the screen in stunned silence.  It took quite a while for it to sink in.  But every day now, they get more and more excited.  We just finished watching a History channel show on Disney World and some of the big rides there, and the anticipation is definitely building.  I’m excited, but a little bit nervous, too, especially about taking all the kids on the plane.  Actually, I’m more worried about James and Lily than the older kids.  Any tips on how to handle a fidgety toddler on a four hour plane flight would be greatly appreciated!

As for the New Year…we had a great little get together with some of our friends on New Year’s Eve.  We actually let Parley and Brianna stay up until midnight (Lily made it as far as 11:00, which wasn’t bad for her), and they had fun screaming and banging pots and pans and watching the South Jordan fireworks from their windows.  But then, all the commotion woke James up, and he would not go back to sleep.  Everybody else left and went to bed around 1:30, but James was still up and having a ball and refused to go to bed until after 4:00 AM.  I’m telling you, there’s no better way to ring in the New Year than by watching HGTV at 3:00 in the morning while your one-year-old merrily runs around the house. And to top if off, even though James was finally asleep by 4:30, I was having stomach problems and couldn’t get to sleep until after 6:00 AM, right about the time Andrew got up.  Fortunately, Andrew kept the kids quiet enough for me to sleep in until 10:00, but needless to say, New Years Day was a little bit hazy for me.  I guess that’s as close to a hangover as a good little mormon like me will get!

As for the future, I can’t guarantee that I will have much opportunity to regularly update this blog, since Andrew has all these video projects he’s working on, and all the kids are home from school for a month, and they all are fighting over who gets to play with their web-based toys first.  I’m kind of last in line when it comes to computer time.  But that’s probably a good thing, because after a whole month spent online shopping and planning a vacation, I could really use a break anyway. So, here’s wishing you all a glorious New Year.  And if any of you missed our family email/newsletter, check out Andrew’s blog at andrewalma.wordpress.com.

October 3, 2008

Getting Kids to Listen to Conference

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Mormon life, Something exciting! tagged , , , , , , , at 3:38 PM by Robin

Well, folks, it’s General Conference time again, and I don’t know about you, but I’m girding up my loins to face the epic battle ahead.  Is it finding a parking spot in downtown Salt Lake City over the weekend, you ask?  No, I believe I have only once actually attended conference dowtown in person, sometime during my BYU years.  Is it trying to figure out how to stay awake during the second half of the Sunday afternoon session?  No, although that will probably be a minor skirmish.  No, my friends, the battle that lurks on the horizon is that of getting my kids to sit still and watch at least some of conference without claiming that their parents are the minions of Satan and are taking away their free agency by forcing them to be righteous (yes, Parley has actually tried using that argument, if not in those exact words). 

Now, I’m a realist.  I know that a seven-year-old’s attention span does not last for the duration of a thirty-minute talk by a member of the First Presidency, and I realize that the majority of what’s being said will exceed their listening comprehension abilities.  But Andrew and I are still determined to get them to listen and understand at least a portion of the words of our prophet and other leaders of the church.  Does anyone have any suggestions that have worked for you with your kids?  Do you remember something your parents did that helped you enjoy conference more?  For now, I’m going to search online for some sort of worksheets (there’s got to be something out there), and employ good ol’ bribery. I’m going to try getting some Halloween candy, and giving them one piece for every talk they sit through.  Hey, we’re operating on a pre-telestial level here, right?  There is that saying about catching more flies with honey than with vinegar (we’ve tried the vinegar, i.e. commands and threats, and it doesn’t produce the desire effect).  Anyway, I’m open to your good advice here, folks!  Help me out!

October 1, 2008

The Preschool Fiasco

Posted in Days of my life, Family life, Parenting at 11:11 AM by Robin

“Fiasco” is one of Andrew’s favorite words, I think.  He always uses it when you get into one of those situations where everything goes wrong, to the point of being laughably ridiculous.  According to dictionary.com, a fiasco is “a complete and ignominious failure” (or, according to definition #2, “a round-bottomed glass flask for wine, esp. Chianti, fitted with a woven, protective raffia basket that also enables the bottle to stand upright”.  Oh, is that what they call those?).  It’s always fun to have to look up the definition of a word when you are trying to understand the definition of another word, so in case you didn’t know, ignominious means humiliating, disgraceful, or shameful.  So, now that we’ve covered our vocabulary lesson for the week, I will go on to describe why I connect such a word with preschool.

As I discussed about a month ago, Lily has been attending a preschool in the mornings.  I mentioned there was a bit of a long story there, which at the time I didn’t get into.  I will now tell you lucky people all about it, because apparently the story was not yet over.  Since I had assumed we would be moving soon, I put off the preschool search for far too long, and by the time I started looking August, it was very difficult to find an opening at a school I could afford. The preschool that Parley and Brianna went to was full, and to make things more difficult for myself, I was determined to put Lily in a three-day program, rather than a two-day (we both need that extra day, I think).  I also really was particular about getting a morning program if at all possible, so that I could have some time for exercising, which is more annoying to do in the afternoon after you’ve already taken a shower and gotten dressed.  Anyway, on my first search attempt, I called many preschools in Riverton, and finally talked to a lady whose curriculum sounded perfect, and the price and the schedule were right.  I pretty much reserved a spot over the phone, but I wanted to come in and meet with her and see the classroom before I finalized it, of course.  However, she said that she was remodeling her classroom that week and wondered if I could wait a few days before I came to see it.  Fine, no problem, I thought, but when I called a few days later, I didn’t get an answer.  I called and called and called, and got no response.  I didn’t want to give up on her at first because she was the only morning class I could find.  Finally, about two weeks later, she finally picked up the phone, and told me that she had been out of town, but had fallen and injured her knee pretty badly, so she would be unable to start her preschool until mid-October.  Ooohh, I was so ticked off.  I didn’t blame her for injuring herself, but it was very unprofessional of her not to call and notify me immediately, rather than waiting weeks to let me know.

So, this was the first week of September, after many preschools had already started their school year.  I tried a few more places, none had any openings, and then I finally found one who said she would squeeze me into her morning class, despite the fact that she already had twelve kids in there.  This lady actually has three classes a day, which end up overlapping each other (9:30-12, 11-1:30, 12:30-3:00), which sounded kind of weird to me, but she assured me that she had other teachers that helped her out, and that the kids rotated to different “centers” so that the two classes were separate from each other.  I took Lily in the very next day to check it out, and I will admit, after seeing the setup, I had my misgivings about it.  She had it in her basement of course, but instead of having a large open classroom area when you walk in, as you would expect for a preschool, she had a small living room-type area, with an oversized beanbag and couch and TV, and a couple of computers.  Behind it were several fairly small rooms, one set up with desks, one with a circle of chairs, one with a kitchen area. They all circled around the stairs, with a narrow hallway connecting them.  The space seemed really small, especially with kids pulling toys out of a hallway closet and playing with them right there in the hallway.  It just seemed like there were kids everywhere and nowhere to step, and that there was absolutely no supervision.  However, I was so eager to get Lily started that I rationalized that it was like that because I was just occupying the teacher’s attention and distracting her.  How bad could it be, I thought?  As long as she learns her letters and gets to play with other kids, I shouldn’t be too particular about the details, right? So, I went ahead and signed her up. 

She had a hard time the first few days, but that’s just because she’s Lily and has a hard time with new things.  However, each day when I dropped her off, the situation was pretty much the same as it was on the first day.  The teacher was rarely there at the entrance to greet the kids as they came in, and it seemed like they all just played with little or no supervision.  Sometimes I would see the teacher sitting one on one with them on the sofa, reading, which is good for the one she’s sitting with, but pretty much leaves the rest of the classroom to their own devices.  I also was suprised to hear (from Lily, not the teacher) that the kids were taken to a nearby park for most of the time on Fridays.  I never saw a lesson schedule, or any crafts coming home.  The more this went on, the more my misgivings increased.  It began to seem more and more like I was just paying for really expensive daycare three times a week.

Two things finally made me realize we needed a change.  The first was that they were supposed to have a fieldtrip last week at Wheeler Farm.  It was on the calendar she gave us at the first of the month, but the only additional information or reminder that she gave us a month later was the day before as we picked up the kids, when she told us what time to meet and to bring a sack lunch.  When we got there, rather than taking everyone around in a group, with the teacher or someone else actually doing some sort of teaching, we were pretty much just on our own.  We saw the teacher again briefly at lunch, when she came by to take some pictures, but that was it.  After that I made a few phone calls to preschools in South Jordan, having exhausted all the possibilities in Riverton, and went to visit one or two of them.  But Lily expressed a reluctance to change schools, and over the weekend, I wondered if it was worth it to put her through the transfer.

However, the final straw was on Monday.  My other kids are off-track this week, and just as I was loading up the car to go pick Lily up, I realized that Brianna had disappeared. We finally found her at a friend’s house, which she got in trouble for, since she didn’t tell me she was going, but she made me late to pick up Lily.  By the time I got there, everyone else had been picked up, and the teacher had taken Lily inside.  I went down into the basement to find her, and found the 11:00 class going on.  Now, this was after 12:00, so that class had been going for more than an hour.  And you know, what?  They looked exactly the same as Lily’s class had, in complete chaos.  I don’t how they could possibly fit twice as many kids in that area when they overlapped the classes.  i think that would have to be against the fire code or something. I decided that was going to be her last day right then and called back one of the ladies I talked to earlier to sign her up.  This lady only has four other kids in her class, and they don’t do field trips or programs, but she really impressed me with how excited she was about all the things they were learning. She has a little garden in the back that they help her plant, she does yoga with them, she teaches them about rules vs. choices, and about character development.  It just sounded much more in line with my idea of what a preschool should be.  I can take Lily to the park or to Wheeler Farm on my own time and get just as much out of it as we would with that other school.

So, hopefully, this will end up being a good situation for Lily.  It’s a little more inconvenient for me, because I ended up having to put her in an afternoon class, but I think it’s more important for her to have a good experience than for me to have a perfect schedule.  She starts tomorrow, since it is a M/T/TH setup (no Fridays because the big kids get out early on Fridays in our school district). There is, of course, one more test of my patience, since the teacher is taking Monday and Tuesday off next week to spend more time with her oldest son who is leaving on a mission on Wednesday, but I figure that in the end, this will be a move for the better. I really hope that this situation is not a true fiasco, in that it will have a happy ending!

Whew.  Can you see why this has been such a pain for me?

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