Monday, February 27, 2017

My Favorite Child - Superstar

I have to admit it. I have a favorite child. My favorite child is Superstar.

Happily, I get to spend the most 1:1 time with him. I walk him to school most mornings and then we play a game together at night once the other two are in bed. Every day there are new and wonderful things to discuss.

Sometimes Superstar wants to talk to me about math. We're currently playing a game to see how many numbers he can make using only four 4s. For instance, 4+4-4-4 = 0, 4-4 + 4/4 = 1, 4/4 + 4/4 = 2, and so on. Superstar is up to the 70s, regularly calling on factorials, square roots, the gamma function (!), and much more. I love that he comes up with different solutions than I do and can explain them in unique ways that show such a deep understanding of underlying mathematical truths.

Sometimes Superstar wants to talk to me about Fablehaven, by Brandon Mull. He has been studying the first three books since Christmas. I say "studying" because he is rereading each of them multiple times before passing on to the next book to make sure he gets everything out of them he can. And yes, this means he's reading two grade levels above his own. And loving it. He recently explained to Princess about what he does at his gifted and talented (GT) program, and concluded that it was fun, but not as much as independent reading time.

Sometimes I tell him about what I was teaching in seminary, and he gets it. He asks questions that tie in the New Testament truths I'm teaching with what he is reading the Book of Mormon. He has always genuinely wanted to do what is right, even though his young mind and heart don't always know the way to get there.

We play tag as we walk the mile to school (especially when we're running just a little late and I want to hurry him up).

Most video games we play, he is a match for me. I'm holding on to my edge in most games, but it's CLOSE. Especially with me giving up my individual play time, he's going to rapidly get ahead and start trouncing me at everything. He still loves Mario games the most, but he also pulls out board and card games - last night was 7 Wonders.

I took Superstar home teaching with me yesterday. In our lesson, we brought some construction paper hearts and had everyone write or draw some things that helped them feel loved. Everything Superstar drew were things he does with his dad. That means a lot to me!

How could I not love such an engaging, intelligent, shining Superstar? (Realizing that the blog didn't do much for, like, 18 months, below the fold are some pictures of Superstar we missed sharing)

My favorite child - Princess

I have to admit it. I have a favorite child. My favorite child is Princess.

There is nothing so wonderful as having a human kitty cat. Princess is a lap cat, more specifically. Her favorite place to read scriptures or watch movies or eat or anything is in my lap. She squishes herself into the tiniest ball she can manage, complete with pillow and blanket, and just snuggles.

She gives the BEST good night hugs. She throws her arms around my neck and squeezes with all her might. Sometimes I have to tickle her to get out.

Princess loves to cook with us and, when she decides to be, is the best cleaner. I took her with this weekend to help someone move, and she was as diligent and useful as anyone could possibly be. Everyone was duly impressed not only with her dedication, but her strength.

It is no surprise she's reading a full grade ahead of where she would normally be. She still loves sleeping with her books and is eager to read to us or be read to. Her latest art project is cutting out construction paper snowflakes and writing love notes on them. Valentines Day, you can imagine, was a big hit.

A few weeks ago Joy and I were talking about our religious fasting for the month. Princess said, "Fasting is really important to you, isn't it?" We agreed and talked to her about it. I thought nothing more about it until yesterday when she announced she was going to fast with us so that God would bless my dad. She is considerate and tender. She thinks of people who aren't immediately in front of her and misses them greatly.

She giggles. She laughs. She loves life and all it has to offer. How couldn't I love my pink-loving Princess?

My favorite child - JT

I have to admit it. I have a favorite child. My favorite child is little John-Thomas.

There is nothing so wonderful as having a human puppy dog. I return from seminary or school - or maybe just taking out the trash! - and JT is right there at the door. He screams at the top of his lungs that DADDY IS HOME!!!! He runs across the house announcing to all the world my triumphal arrival.

I mentioned JT has been actively potty training for a few weeks. His big motivator is that he gets to play any game he wants for 10 minutes. He likes spending much of that time flipping through the Wii games, revisiting what each game does before rotating through one of his many favorites. He seems to be much more capable at using the Wii U controller than the Wiimote, so he may be the best of our children at playing video games at this age.

JT is the happiest of our children about going to church. Sacrament meeting he could do without, but he sure loves nursery! He regularly asks me at night if he gets to go to nursery tomorrow. He also regularly asks to go to the park, the beach, or Six Flags, so that's the company nursery keeps.

JT loves superheroes. He appropriated Superstar's enormous Spider-man blanket and at the store the other day couldn't rest until we agreed to get him a Batman pillow that's a bit bigger than he is. (We were buying pillows for Princess and me anyway.)

JT loves to read. He loves to read to us and he loves to have us read. He loves his brother and sister and is delighted when he gets to be with them. He is also the first child by that age who was willing to go to sit in timeout on his own.

Looking at the blog, I realized I skipped 18 months almost completely, so here are some of JT's missing shots:

Sunday, February 26, 2017

A gradual transformation

Not quite two years ago, I started having this feeling that I needed to reach up a lot higher than I was doing. This has turned into a gradual letting go of a lot of things from my life  that I've been relying on a bit too much. I've finally gotten to the point of removing some of them altogether. For the last three months, I haven't had any desserts, sweets, or other treats. And for ten days I haven't played any games by myself - I still play with my kids or Joy, but my personal time with DS or other video games is officially over.

So far the main thing going up to help fill in the time is family history. I've been organizing the people Joy and I have already found to do temple work for and finding additional people along the way. I've counted up about 90 people who need individual ordinance work done; we have 10 couples ready to be sealed and 9 kids ready to be sealed to parents. So now we're trying to figure out how we can get to the temple more often to get their work done.

I can also happily report that I have been doing a stellar job getting my grading done so far this semester. Last year, between illness and a shortened schedule, I was perpetually behind on my grading, so it's a relief as well. The house is a bit cleaner, and something like half a year ago Joy noticed that the kids would come up to me on my computer and ask what I was working on instead of asking what I was playing. Little signs of progress.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Hungry, Hungry, JT

As one of his several rewards for potty training, John-Thomas has been asking to play Hungry, Hungry Hippos with Joy. She recounts:

We'll get all of the marbles and put them in the center. Then he'll say, "Hungry!" and push the levers on the hippo. You only get to push them once before he yells, "STOP!"

He picks up each hippo head, and he'll use a different voice for them and say, "I'm hungry." "I'm hungry." "I'm hungry." "I'm hungry" all the way around.

We have to take all the balls out before we start again. And he insists that the yellow ball should go inside the yellow hippo. I say, "Poor blue and green hippos! There's no food for them."