Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter/Passover confusion

Two weeks ago I decided it was time to prepare the kids. For Family Home Evening I laid out the next three weeks, describing Passover, Easter, and General Conference, all conveniently laid out for us.

We paused our family Book of Mormon reading (just before the crucifixion and accompanying destruction, conveniently) to head to the Old Testament to read about Moses and the Passover. Princess loved it. "Let my people go!"

Last Sunday was our transition from explaining Passover to Paschal week.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The lad formerly known as Prince

Prince has made a request. He is not to be called Prince anymore on the blog. That was just to match with our Princess, but it was never his choice.

He would prefer to be known as the Superstar.

That's pronounced, Soupa-stah, because apparently the voices on my DS can't make an American Rrrrr sound.

I'm fine with that. For one thing ... I'M the Prince, dang it. Derrill means "The Prince." My home may be my castle, but my name never got changed to Ryan, Richmond, Rory or any other royal promotion that means "king" when we started begetting this little princedom. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Prince's first poem, in the style of Mr. Silverstein

There's a shoe in my belt
by [Prince] Watson

My belt doesn't fit me
And it's my size
So maybe I'll take my belt off
And look inside.
There's a shoe in my belt!
And that's why I'll die.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

It's hot!

Tonight I read the family some Shel Silverstein poems, including "It's hot!" wherein the narrator complains that it's hot.

Princess was quite taken by it, and informed us several times that "It's hot." Thinking about it some more, she added, "It's hot. Take shower." The fact that we had no electricity (and therefore neither AC nor internet) most of yesterday gave the poem a certain immediacy.

To the right you see her surrounded by her bedtime toys. She asks for each and all of them nearly every night. She gets quite enveloped by them. No wonder she's hot!

Children count

Princess can "count" to 13. That is, she can recite her numbers to 13 before she starts skipping around to 16, 18, and then ... 20!!!!

When she tries to count objects, Princess isn't really sure when to stop. She counts the four of us and sometimes we are 6 and sometimes 10. What she can demonstrate is the idea of pointing at something and adding one to the number in sequence.

She really comprehends one and two. If we ask her to take 3 things, she doesn't know what to do. When we tell her to take 2, she does. So she understands the concept of one and two very well.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Temperature Feb-Mar - They have adapted

After an initially good few weeks, I have been failing to record the temperatures I'm measuring consistently.

In late Feb conditions remained as they had throughout Feb: highs between 97 and 104, gradually tapering off dust cover with another day of unsafe dust accumulations, and consistent 16% humidity.

By the start of March, there was a noticeable change in the weather. The dust has been blown much further afield, the sky is bluer ... and therefore everything is hotter. From Mar 1-10 there was not a single day when the high in the shade was below 104. One day while I walked outside - so measured under the sun but not in direct sunlight - the high was 111. It was well and truly HOT. The humidity also rose to 22-26%.

This week has been a touch more mild: highs ranged between 101-104.

This has also made a difference to the temperature inside the house, naturally. In Feb the unadjusted temperature in the family room/dining room was 82. We could bring it down to 79 with one AC unit and 76 with two. Now the unadjusted indoor temperature is 88 and we can only get it down to 82.

The Borg have adapted. (Source)
Today I realized that I have gotten accustomed to the heat. 82 feels cool and when we get our bedroom down to 77 I need the feather quilt. Today as I went to lunch, I thought the day was pleasantly warm. I figured the temperature couldn't be over 100, especially since yesterday's high was 101. I set the thermometer outside, had my lunch, and came back to check on it.

The temperature in the shade was 106. I took a brief walk in the sun and got a reading of 111 again. I admitted it was pretty warm, but it did not feel like the oven it was just a week ago.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Prince's fifth year

Tomorrow in the very early morning, Prince turns 5. Visually, it's clear he's growing up and turning into a real Big Boy. I've been trying to remember all the ways he has changed and grown this year. He has made tremendous progress in a lot of ways. [Warning: all the bragging of a Christmas newsletter approaching:]

Her newest tricks

Princess sings. Mostly she tries to sing along with us -- better than Prince does -- but she has even started singing to herself. She is most likely to sing "You can never go down the drain," "Give Said the Little Stream,"    "Itsy Bitsy Spider," and of course "Ring Around the Rosy." Mostly for the last song, she just wanders around the house saying "Ashes, ashes; ashes, ashes; ashes, ashes; ashes, ashes" and only every once in a while letting us all fall down ... into the humongous pile of ashes.

Princess has learned to not cry when I put her to bed. Since I started putting her to bed, every night has been one monstrous crying sob-a-thon. I could eventually calm her down with enough singing, but there was no joy. 4-5 nights a row now though, we've not had a single tear.

It started by bribery: I told her we'd read a certain book if she didn't cry. She worked so hard to not cry that night, choking back sobs in between every word of her prayers. Then she got a little better the next night. On Wednesday we halted walking back to her room if she cried, so she could pull herself together before we got there. By Thursday there were no tears and we spent Friday in a major happy ticklefest.

Two things that probably have made a difference are Joy limiting the number of hugs Princess gets (so there's less goodbye build up) and going to sleep with her Leapfrog dog, Violet. Violet sings to her after I leave the room, so she's much happier then also.

Princess is learning to pour her own water. We're just barely giving her permission to use the water dispenser. We tell her to pour just a tiny bit of water and drink it, then to pour just a tiny bit more. She gets it right most of the time, but sometimes she fills and overfills her little cup, so we have had a lot of spills to clean up.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

A well-wasted youth

I enjoyed wasting numerous hours of my youth in front of a monitor. The Atari, the Commodore, my brother's Nintendo and then his Sega, and especially my/our PC for my latest Sid Meier obsession. I remember the happy Christmas nights driving home from our aunt's house playing the little one-game handhelds before Gameboy came out. I read a book at BYU that I think was called Joystick Nation about the history of video gaming, and about the only thing in the book I had missed was Pong and the precursor to Asteroids.

I knew and I know it was a waste of time. It still is. I enjoy it, and that is/was reason enough. I had no idea anything good would ever come of it. This month I have been learning that what I was really doing was preparing to be a good father to my son.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Valentines - we actually did stuff

"It's the truth!" Joy exults. "Even we're surprised."
We are regularly sick for minor holidays (and many major ones). We often celebrate Valentines on some other day. But not this time!

This is also monumental because we're actually celebrating a US holiday on the day of, while in Nigeria, and we didn't cut corners. It may be the first holiday we've really done that.
"We did it the usual way we would have in the States - though without someone watching our kids, I guess."

Prince's rewards: extrinsic and intrinsic

This year we started paying Prince in money for good behavior. Primarily for good potty behavior, but also for being soft for his sister and various acts of maturity above and beyond the call of his years. He gets N1 (one naira), which is about 2/3 of a penny, for each good deed. He also gets a base allowance of N25 each week. Once he has N100 together, we pay him in N10 bills and he can practice paying his tithing, saving for his mission, and putting some money aside to buy that new flashlight he has his eyes on. [It's for his "detective kit," just like the one in The Friend story he read: The Case of the Broken Mirror.]
As an aside, it is really remarkable how hard it is to gather N10 bills! I went to the bank, and the bank wouldn't give me any. I go to shops, and they have a hard time coming up with 5. I usually have to take some N5, a N10 or 2, and a N20. I finally made a deal with the cafeteria and bought N500 worth of their small change.
Joy says, "Prince has been pretending like his Mario checkers are coins. I'm not sure how he pays with them. He'll say, 'I couldn't play checkers today, Mommy, because I was playing with my checkers as money.'"

This has meant we have changed his reward systems. We had 3 going at once. Adding another on top? Ridiculous. So we got to simplify and Joy repurposed his responsibility chart. Won't you tell us about that, dear?

What I've been reading

For some reason, I tend to go on reading binges at the beginning of the year. Partly it's because I have new books to read, but I never lack for reading material really. Taking stock, I found that I've read the equivalent of nine books since Christmas. Without intending to, I've been reading a lot of books by LDS authors:

I got four new Brandon Sanderson books. My favorites were The Alloy of Law and The Emperor's Soul. Alloy is the fourth book in the Mistborn series (new characters and you don't have to have read the trilogy behind it) that I hope he returns to someday. It's a fascinating mix of western, steampunk, magic, and mystery. Emperor is a very powerful short story I read in close to one night. I felt changed and empowered by reading it, and the changes have lasted more than two months so far. I was also strongly intrigued by his short story Legion, which I hope he does more with. It's about a fellow who interacts with his multiple personalities to glean specialized knowledge and insight. Firstborn is the only one of the short stories I'm not worried if he returns to or not - it's a complete silhouette of a morality play. [For clarity, Alloy is a full book. All the others are short stories.]

I devoured the first two books in L.E. Modessitt's Recluce series (Magic of Recluce and the oddly named Towers of Sunset.) After the second one, I felt like taking a short break from him and while I'm halfway through the third book (The Magic Engineer) I feel like taking a longer break once I'm done with this one. He has a nice magical world based on chaos vs. order, but there are enough similarities between the books and the characters that it's getting a touch repetitive. The fact that each book jumps to a new point in the time stream without ever really telling you how each fits into the whole is off-putting.

On my father's recommendation, I picked up William Bennett's Jacob T. Marley, which views the events from Dickens' A Christmas Carol from Marley's perspective. It adds a remarkable amount of richness to the original and is quite faithful to Dickens' tone and world. (Though with that said, I read just the week before how old authors never referred to minutes or seconds because no one had a watch to tell time that exactly, and then read Marley complaining about minutes and seconds. Ah well.) The ending is beautiful and, for sticking to a very well-known plot, has a delightful twist I shan't spoil. I will definitely be reading this again.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Maximum Security

Princess likes to open doors. She likes to shut them again because she quickly figured out that if we leave them open, we'll find her that much quicker. She also likes hiding in curtains and closets. Here is Prince showing us where "his ghost" likes to hide.

This is a problem.

We had to lock the kitchen because you don't exactly want a toddler playing with gas.
We had to lock the bathrooms because she likes to play with the water.
We had to lock our room; it's got the medicine.
We had to lock the front door for obvious reasons.
Prince prefers his door to be locked too, but we're less cooperative on that one.

The other day I counted all the times I have to turn a key just to do the laundry:
1. Unlock the bedroom door.
2. Take the laundry out of the bedroom and lock the bedroom door again.
3. Unlock the front door.
4. Take the laundry out and lock the front door again.
5. Unlock the laundry room door.
Ooh, actually do the laundry with an unlocked door!
6. Lock the laundry room door again.
7. Unlock the front door.
8. Lock the front door.
9. Unlock the bedroom, which doubles as my office in the morning.
10. Lock the bedroom again.

Repeat again 2-3 times a day to change laundry and bring it back in or start another load.

She doesn't actually spend all her time checking every door to make sure if it's locked, but every time I forget to lock one of those doors behind me, I come back to find she's made a break for it. She knows the sound of every door and who is behind each door at any given moment, so she can call out who is coming.