Sunday, October 28, 2012

Stuff we are learning about

We were confused that people didn't recognize Princess is a girl when she was a baby. She was dressed in pink, after all! We eventually learned they pierce the ears of baby girls around here, so they just noticed that her ears weren't pierced.

At a presentation on socially constructed gender roles in Nigeria for the freshman seminar I team teach, I learned some more interesting things: girls wear purple, green, and yellow. Boys wear white, black, and red. The teacher said, if you dressed your little girl in white and black, people would ask why you don't love your child.

Now thankfully Princess' wardrobe is not shades of white and black, very heavily pink with some orange and lavender. But that was instructive for picking out next year's wardrobe...


Prince was playing with his calculator yesterday. He typed in 8-9 and it said 1. He told Joy that 8-9 is 1. She was vexed. I took a look at the offending technology and saw the little word "minus" in six point font in the upper left corner. Joy told me in no uncertain terms the time had come to teach Prince another one of the facts of life.

Safety in Yola, Nigeria --- Jimeta, Nigeria

Is it safe to live in Yola and Jimeta, Nigeria? It is not as safe as it used to be.
I and my family are safe. We live in a compound that has guards and that is nice. I feel safe in our compound, in our apartment. I don’t like how our guards make fun of my children when we go out of our apartment, but it feels safe. I also keep my family inside most days for dawn and dusk because of malaria ridden mosquitoes. We are safe and feel that Heavenly Father still wants us to be here so we continue being here and learning to love the people and place.
Please only look below the fold if you really want to know more. If you are my family, you might not want to read.

Reading with Prince

Prince and I just finished reading The Hobbit. Prince's favorite character is Bilbo. His favorite thing is that he gets home again. His favorite adventure is with the Dragon Smaug and how Bilbo could talk his way out of danger. "I also like the very powerful wizard with his cane." Gandalf? "Yeah, Gandalf! When his cane put out thunder, that was a great adventure! And I like how they found their way out of the forest."

Our next book will be Peter Pan. Prince says, "I can't wait to see if they travel or not like Bilbo. He's on a boat, flying in the air."

Before that, we were reading Wind in the Willows, which he interrupted just before the attack to recapture Toad Hall to read Bilbo instead. Before that we read the first two books of the Wizard of Oz and the Velveteen Rabbit. He was not interested in returning to Wind in the Willows.

Random thoughts this week

I was entertained by the student who wanted extra credit for an assigned out-of-class service project because he was outside and "it was hot." I laughed and told him everything and everywhere in this country is hot. He ought to be used to it by now. He surrendered the point.


Last semester my leg was giving me some pain when I stood up. While in the States over the summer, it was diagnosed as a hip problem. Apparently one of my legs was rotating in the hip socket, making one leg longer than the other by about 1/4 inch. I learned some physical therapy exercises and techniques to pop it back in place and it felt much better.

Now we're back here and I have to pop my leg back into place 3-4 times a day. By the time I'm done with 5 hours of teaching on my feet Wednesdays, I'm in a great deal of pain. I've been limping around for the last month. So I finally broke down and got a medical cane. It makes a great deal of difference to not have to put my full weight on my foot. I can even get through a Wednesday without limping.

The guy who sold canes had a couple with overly elaborate cane handles with Chinese dragons. "Mafia or Nagus?" I thought. Turns out I wasn't far from the truth. He showed me the 2' sword in the handle - very dull edges but a sharp point for stabbing. "For Hausa man looking for trouble," he explained with a smile.

Spiders. Hooray!

About a week after we got back we asked our maid to clean the spider webs off of of the ceiling and get rid of the spiders. It seemed like a good idea at the time.
Not long after she very dutifully cleaned up the webs and spiders I was very sorry that she had. We had a large influx of small flying bugs. We had so many in our bathroom that I saw them on every wall from top to bottom of the shower when I showered and it really gave me the creeps.
I started praying for some spiders. In a week or something we got a spider for our bathroom. It showed up and I was so grateful and just as I had hoped  my bathroom is tolerable again. We also got a friendly spider in our bedroom. I have never been so grateful for spiders before in my life. But these spiders feel like Heavenly Father’s protection from the other elements in my home. I really can’t handle spraying very often for bugs because I am allergic to something in the spray. And you just don’t want to spray everyday where there is an endless supply of bugs.

 -- Joy

When answers to prayer change

As I was reading my scriptures today, I was reminded of various friends of mine who have had very clear, definite answers to prayer that later changed. Most importantly, the prayers were about whom to marry, though sometimes it was about where to move, a job to pursue, someone to reach out to. They got very clear confirmations that their choice was a good one. Only then it didn't work out. The Yes became No. Why?

I don't pretend to have the answers, but I saw an odd example of Yes becoming No in the scriptures this week. In Numbers 21, the Israelites were attacked by fiery serpents who poisoned them and made many of them die. To save Israel, God told Moses to make a brazen serpent. Anyone who looked to the serpent of brass would live. The Book of Mormon references this story several times (1 Ne. 17:412 Ne. 25:20Alma 33:19–2237:4–6) and it made an appearance in a wonderful article in this August's Ensign.

In all cases, the point was to look to Jesus and be saved. The brass serpent was a symbol of the crucifixion, but many refused to look to the Savior to be saved. The brass serpent is a very big YES!

Until we get to 2nd Kings, that is. The people who had lost sight of what they were supposed to be looking to had started worshiping the symbol instead of what it symbolized. The righteous King Hezekiah had the brass serpent broken in pieces. We need ongoing revelation in our day and in our lives.

Yes became No because the circumstances of the people changed. There was a new problem and a new answer.
Yes became No because someone's heart changed.
Yes became No because that Yes was never The Point. It was a path to get where they needed to be.
Yes became No because a stepping stone had become a stumbling block.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Child psychology 2

We watched a video together as a family from Love Those Letters. It has three parts. It was fascinating to see how differently our two children responded to them.

  1. The first part has a bunch of kids dancing and singing out the letters, their sounds, and a word that starts with each. Both kids were enthralled.
  2. The second part has the kids just stand there, sound out the letter and its word. Princess was enthralled, Prince went to writing in his book.
  3. The third part, the kids disappear and the letters talk. Princess wandered off to do something else while Prince started to pay attention again.

Princess is one of the "people who need people" ... but on her terms.

Before we left for the States, she was very clingy to Mommy. In the US, she suddenly blossomed. She walked all around the house without Mommy, visited with Grandpa (mostly to get him to "Go!" outside with her), and was very excited. She was happy to talk to anybody.

Joy says, "When we went to the park, she didn't really notice other people,  but she would wander off."

We figured this was a new life stage and we would enjoy it in Nigeria too.

No such luck.

When we returned, she returned to clingy. The difference is, now she NEEDS to know where Mommy, Prince, and I are. The instant she hears a door open anywhere in the house, she knows whose door it is and who might be coming out. She calls out our names when she hears our door. So we are thankful Prince is home from school - it does good things for Princess.

The way we figure it is that she was a lot more comfortable when there were more people in her home. That comfort gave her strength to go out and smile at (some) strangers.

Child psychology 1

Joy reports that Prince told his LeapPad today that he wants to be just like me when he grows up. He even recorded himself saying that. That isn't exactly what he told me, though.

Today he told me has a friend called Derrill, but Derrill isn't Daddy. He told me that Derrill loves me and wants to be like me. So every day Prince finds out what I'm wearing and tells Derrill so he can wear the same thing. (Today, Prince and I are both in green.)

Prince is a fascinating little person to study. He is very like his mother in his attention to process and organization.

His favorite story in the children's Book of Mormon stories is still the first one: How We Got the Book of Mormon. Before he could read at all, he could recite the entire story and give a credible first discussion.
His favorite video in the BoM seminary videos is the one where they talk about how the BoM is organized: the teacher uses a magic remote control to take the kids to a cave where giant replicas of the gold plates highlight who wrote the different parts.
Today he paid his Princely Points to rewatch a seminary video from the Doctrine and Covenants ... the one where they give an overview of Church History through 6 time periods. We've already watched it 4 times and he wants to watch it over and over.

They have some wonderful seminary videos with stories and personal experiences likening the scriptures to daily life ... and he gets really bored watching them. What he wants are the organizational videos!

He told me today that Primary is not fun. Singing is not fun. The seminary videos are fun. But when I wrote the names of the songs we were going to sing on pieces of paper, called them fishies, and let him choose the fish we would sing, he now reports Primary was fun. What made it fun? Not that he got to participate more, not that choosing rectangles of paper loosely called fish was a game ... it was that he could see how many fishies there were and so he knew when it would be over and could SEE the Primary structure.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Conversations with a preschooler

Tonight, I had the following, unprompted discussion with my son while he was (avoiding) getting ready for bed. I won't even include my response because they consisted of little more than "What?"

Daddy, do you know what 10+10 is? 10+10 is 20.
Daddy, do you know what 10+10+10 is? 10+10+10 is 30.
Daddy, do you know what 10+20 is? 10+20 is 30.
Daddy, do you know what 20-10 is? 20-10 is 10.
And 10-10 is 0.

He then proceeded to apply this new-found knowledge to MarioParty, discussing how many coins you would have after winning a minigame.

He then discussed the ethics of math! I have to paraphrase this part: This whole concept of "20 take away 10" all depends on just who takes the 10 away and how and why. If one person takes it away from someone else without asking, that's stealing and it's wrong. But if you eat the vampire candy and the coins disappear, then it isn't stealing. But 20 take away 10 is still 10 either way. And if you take away 10 and there's 0 left, that's sad, no matter how it gets taken away.

I was there when Joy had the conversation with Prince about what 10+10 was for the first time. It was Friday. From Friday to Sunday he figured all that out.

Joy's comment at this point is just as priceless: "Boy, I've got to be really careful when I talk to him about numbers. I don't mean to expand his mind."


It all comes out in the wash

Prince and Princess really like helping Mommy with the laundry. When we moved here, pushing the buttons on the machines was a major motivator for Prince. Joy could get him to behave better by telling him he wouldn't be allowed to push the buttons if he was a bad bay. And it worked.

Seeing this fine (if fleeting) example, Princess loves laundry too. She always has. She pulls clothes out of drawers and scatters it all around. Then she puts it back in the drawer (sometimes).

Tonight we found out just how much she loves the laundry.

If you're not on FB this week

You might be missing great news like this. (If you are on FB but not here, you're missing the rest of the story)

Sun: I don't care what sport you follow, out here it's cricket season. We've killed or banished 7 8 9 in our home in the last 48 hours, I found another dozen on the stairs tonight. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Moses was in town.

Joy adds: "Los pioneros".
Yes, bring on the seagulls! Just before I typed that, a hornet flew in the house through the air conditioner and headed mostly-straight for us after rebounding on the wall a couple times and hiding in a dark corner, we hope to die.

SatJoy caught our son today. She opened his door and found him reading The Book of Mormon. "I couldn't find my pencil to do my writing, Mommy," he explained. "So I wanted to do some reading in my Book of Mormon." Wed he had asked her if he could have a copy to keep in his room - but not the copy he has colored in "because sometimes I can't read the words behind the pictures."

FriJoy discovered today that people line up starting at 7am to see the pediatrician (who shows up around 9) and wait for hours, often not getting to see him. Not knowing this, she just showed up and asked at the reception desk. They brought her right past the entire line, into the room where another patient was getting treatment, and we're not sure if she was already done or if they asked her to leave to make room for our girl. Then they didn't make us pay for the treatment or the medicine. #ifwehaveunearn'edluck then #somethingisrotteninDenmark

Joy adds,

And it rained and it rained and it rained

I counted 10 flashes of lightning every 15-20 seconds. The wind whipped the rain up and sideways and every which way. It blew up and over the cars. Easily the coolest storm we've had here. It was all over in about an hour or two, though.

In good news, the flood waters are finally receding in Adamawa. Just in time for Pres. Jonathan to finally get around to promising some flood relief funding, more than a month after they started.